Cheaper Broadband? Find out what it is and how you can get it

24th July 2023

What is a broadband social tariff?

In this blog we want to bring your attention to social tariffs for broadband and mobile phones. Have you ever heard of a social tariff or do you know what it is? Prior to starting work at RACA I wasn’t entirely sure what a social tariff was but it’s pretty simple really; social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages which are designed to be affordable in order to support some people on low incomes.

Who is eligible to apply for broadband social tariffs?

Social tariffs are available for people claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Pension Credit. However, there is a huge lack of awareness, possibly because most suppliers do not actively promote social tariffs on their websites. According to OFCOM, 4.2 million households are on Universal Credit but only 136,000 households are on a social tariff, that’s only 3.2% of households. As of April 2022, 69% of benefits claimants were unaware of social tariffs.

BT provide 85% of households currently, however, the availability of social tariffs are increasing, with around 75% of customers being able to access one with their existing provider. As of now, providers such as Vodafone, Virgin Media, Sky and NOW offer social broadband tariffs and companies such as EE, Smarty and Voxi offer social mobile tariffs.

What are the costs?

Broadband social tariffs usually vary in price between £10 and £20 per month depending on broadband speed, and if you require a telephone line or for mobile tariffs the price depends on how many calls, texts or how much data is required. However, a perk of being on a social tariff is that monthly costs will not change throughout the plan and switching to a social tariff is often free.

What else do I need to know?

There are a few things to be mindful of when considering a social tariff. Not all suppliers offer these tariffs to everyone on the earlier list of benefits so it is best to check with each supplier. Suppliers conduct an eligibility and credit check as part of the application process and it is important to note that poor credit is not a definite barrier, however the process of signing up to a social tariff may take time. This is because some suppliers require evidence of income and the way organisations collect this varies between online, over the telephone and in-person at a store. In addition, early termination fees can apply and some tariffs switch to a more expensive option at the end of the contract, so be aware. 

Support to apply for broadband social tariffs

If you feel you need support to apply for a broadband social tariff, Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau will be happy to help you, you can contact them on 0141 889 2121. 

A list of broadband and phone social tariffs can be found here.

Renfrewshire Digital Champions

Alternatively, if you need any sort of digital support using devices whilst applying for social tariff broadband, Digital Champions help learners build confidence and skills around using digital devices and can help with using devices and handling information. Contact or visit Johnstone Library. If you can offer tech support, you could become a Digital Champion Volunteer.  

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