Discounts on utility costs, such as broadband, “can make all the difference”, according to experts. Recipients of certain benefit payments through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are entitled to extra support from elsewhere. Notably, those on Universal Credit can reduce what they pay towards their broadband through a discount scheme.
This particular discount is known as a social tariff, which is designed to assist those who are financially vulnerable customers.
To claim this support, customers must be in receipt of a means-tested benefit payment, such as Universal Credit.
According to the UK’s media regulator Ofcom, around 4.2 million households are eligible for broadband social tariffs.
However, of this wider group which include Universal Credit claimants, only 55,000 people are claiming the discount.
This means that millions of Britons are eligible for vital support on their broadband bills which they are not claiming, despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Many broadband providers, including BT, Hyperoptic, Virgin Media, and Sky, offer social tariffs to customers in receipt of DWP support.
As it stands, the average broadband package costs households around £27 a month.
However, social tariffs are available to eligible families for as low as £15 a month, which means households can potentially save £144.
Aside from this sizeable discount, companies such as Vodafone have expanded their social tariff plan to include its mobile network.
Those claiming the qualifying benefit payments will be able to claim unlimited 5G data, calls and texts for £10 for up to six months
Some broadband firms, such as TalkTalk, do not have a social tariff on offer. However, the company has partnered with the DWP.
TalkTalk is offering six months of free fibre broadband to certain jobseekers but this is determined by Jobcentre staff.
People who claim Universal Credit and are customers of TalkTalk should ask their Jobcentre Plus work coach if they’re eligible.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Network and Communications’ group director, shared why she believes broadband firms should do more to promote their social tariff offerings.
Ms Fussell explained: “People rely on their broadband for staying in touch, working and learning from home. But for those who are really struggling with rising bills, every penny counts.
“Special discounts can make all the difference, and too many broadband firms are failing either to promote their social tariff or to offer one at all.
“We expect companies to step up support for those on low incomes, and we’ll be watching their response.”
Recently, broadband companies have faced criticism for hiking their fees despite the the ongoing cost of living crisis which makes it all the more important consumers take advantage of any potential discounts or deals.
Adam French, a consumer rights expert for Which?, said: “Despite the cost of living crisis, many providers have not hesitated to impose above-inflation price hikes, leaving customers feeling the pressure.
“But, there are steps you can take to minimise the cost of broadband and mobile bills. It’s worth shopping around or haggling for the best deal, particularly if you’re out of contract.
“Which? research has found that haggling with your providers or switching deals could save you hundreds of pounds a year.”