Poor households in the UK, many struggling with out-of-control inflation, are missing out on social broadband tariffs that could be £200 cheaper per year. Ofcom, the digital regulator, said many eligible households are unaware of these social tariffs and just 5% of those eligible are signed up.
In January 2023, 30% of households said they found it challenging to keep up with phone, broadband, pay-TV, or streaming bills. This works out to about 8.1 million households, most of which will be on the low end of the income spectrum. While 4.3 million households are on welfare and are eligible for a social tariff, just 220,000 households are signed up.
Based on Ofcom’s findings, broadband providers are not too keen to spill the beans on social tariffs. Of those who signed up for a social tariff, 26% heard about them on social media and 21% heard about them on TV. Only 9% had heard of social tariffs from their provider. Ofcom said providers need to do more to make them easier to find.
“Hundreds of thousands of customers are now benefitting from the huge savings that can be made from securing a social tariff. But millions are still missing out on superfast speeds for super low prices – with many not aware they even exist,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Group Director, Network and Communications. “We’re urging anyone who thinks they could be eligible for a discount deal to contact their provider today and potentially save hundreds of pounds. Providers should also do much more to help these customers find and access these deals, at a time when these savings could make a massive difference.”
By moving over to a social tariff, Ofcom estimates that customers could save around £202 per year or nearly £17 per month. It said that £411 was the typical annual spend with the same provider on the closest commercial tariff. On an equivalent social tariff, the annual cost falls to £209 per year or £17 per month.
To help spread awareness of social tariffs, Ofcom is asking providers to review their social tariff web pages. It wants to ensure information is accurate and understandable and highlights protections included in social tariffs. Additionally, it’s asked TalkTalk and O2 to introduce social tariffs. In the meantime, it wants them to waive fees for people who join another company to access a social tariff.
Even if you are not a welfare claimant and don’t have access to a social tariff, there are massive savings to be had by shopping around. On the mobile front, Which? recently named Smarty, Giffgaff, and iD Mobile as Great Value providers. There are also lots of comparison websites that you can use to easily find the cheapest deals on the market. If you’re out of contract, you’re very likely to be paying a huge premium on your broadband so definitely shop around if you’re struggling for money.