Broadband bills could be cut for millions of low-income households under new plans to encourage ‘social tariffs’.
A new service, which will go live next week and be run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), will allow internet service providers to verify – with customers’ permission – whether they are in receipt of a relevant benefit and therefore eligible for extra financial support.
Earlier this year, the government called on all broadband giants to offer and promote social tariffs – discounted broadband and mobile deals for people on Universal Credit and other benefits – with statistics showing only 1.2 per cent of those eligible have taken advantage of such a package.
The scheme is already supported by Virgin Media O2 who announced today that they will use the system to verify eligible customers signing up to their Essential Broadband tariff. The company will also waive early termination fees for those moving from existing tariffs.
The new system being push forward looks to simplify the process by removing the need for customers to prove entitlement to broadband providers as regularly as every month.
Social tariffs are available to eligible customers in 99 per cent of the country following Government-led negotiations with broadband companies.
Cost of Living Business Tsar David Buttress welcomed the new scheme and committed to continue working with industry to scale up and promote existing social tariffs, as well as encourage all providers to offer a discounted tariff.
“Times are tough and families across the country are feeling the pinch, so we’re making it easier for companies to reduce phone and broadband bills for struggling families,” Buttress said.
“Some of the biggest network operators have already committed to take advantage of this new scheme and we want to see other providers follow their lead so that everyone eligible for a social tariff can access one.”