Social Tariffs Offer Cheaper Broadband

A person setting up Wi-Fi at their desk, with mobile, laptop and wireless router
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Apr 26, 2023
4 minutes read

Ofcom has released a report detailing how advice for more affordable broadband offers hasn’t been communicated to millions of households. Social tariffs are provided by companies and offer low cost deals for anyone on benefits. Typically around £10-20 a month, families can save about £200 a year by making use of these deals. This is a significant saving for families and households that are finding it increasingly harder to afford bills and basic essentials throughout the cost of living crisis.

It’s estimated that around 4.3 million households around the UK could be eligible for a social tariff, but currently only about 5% of people are making use of them. Not only are they cheaper, but they can be on shorter contracts and don’t have early exit fees. Having this flexibility allows families to benefit from social tariffs without having to worry about their circumstances changing. Plenty of people could be put off by deals from big broadband providers because of these fees.

Data collected by Ofcom found that at least 29% of homes have had an issue in affording communication services since January 2023. While this has been the same since the end of 2022, it’s estimated that around 8.1 million households are suffering from this issue, and due to the cost of living crisis, plenty are reducing their spending elsewhere in order to pay for these services. It shouldn't be a case that a more vital piece of technology is out of reach for so many people.

Similar to last year, Ofcom is encouraging broadband providers to raise awareness of their social tariffs to help more households across the country. The regulator found a concerning amount of barricades in companies not informing customers or identifying how to sign up to these cheaper social tariffs. It shouldn't be a case of having to know about the deals before being able to access them.

People surveyed who are currently on a social tariff had mostly heard about them through social media or TV, while a meagre 9% found out through their provider. In essence, they need to be easier to find and well-known to the public. Families struggling to cut costs in their household bills can benefit from these, particularly those less well-off and on certain benefits.

Although about 20 internet providers offer these social tariffs, the regulator found incorrect information about these deals online. They have called for all companies to review their webpages urgently. TalkTalk and O₂ currently don’t offer social tariffs for broadband or for mobile, but Ofcom is encouraging them to do so, as they are two large providers.

The government has also advised broadband companies to offer more social tariffs to low income households. While Ofcom has specified that at least 84% of people who could benefit from social tariffs are unaware of them, Nadine Dorries, a previous Culture Secretary, has noted that only 1-2% of people on Universal Credit actually have a social tariff. This was before she disappeared from public life after announcing her "immediate" resignation.

During the cost of living crisis, it’s important to see if you can save money on your bills. If you are on any sort of benefit, get in contact with your current broadband provider to see if they can switch you over to a social tariff. You can see a full list of providers and costs on the Ofgem website.

If you’re also struggling to pay your mobile costs or are unable to afford internet access, talk with your provider as soon as you can. They will be able to find ways to help you. There's no reason to struggle in silence and not receive the offers you deserve to have access to.