What is a social tariff? Find out if you are eligible for cheaper broadband

You can get a cheaper contract if you claim benefits or have a small business  (Pexels)
You can get a cheaper contract if you claim benefits or have a small business (Pexels)

An estimated one million people have cancelled their broadband in the past year due to the high cost of living, according to a survey by Citizens’ Advice.

The charity said those in need would have benefitted from cheaper social tariffs, or special low-cost packages, with Ofcom warning 4.3m eligible people were missing out on the deals.

Last month, a study revealed that more than half of low-income households did not know about cheaper broadband deals that could save them around £200 a year.

A study by Ofcom and Which? found 53 per cent were unaware and just five per cent of eligible households have signed up to a discounted package, known as a ‘social tariff’.

Most tariffs offer superfast broadband at speeds more than 30 Mbit/s — fast enough for Zoom calls, HD films, and online shopping.

But, unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for a social tariff. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering switching from your current plan.

What is a social tariff?

Social tariffs for broadband are discounted offers made available by different broadband providers to assist low-income or financially struggling homes.

Social tariffs are cheaper than regular packages — current prices range from £10 to £20.

In addition, three mobile providers also now offer social tariffs.

They’re delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at lower prices.

Additionally, you won’t pay any more than what you agreed at the start of the contract.

Ofcom said in a statement: “While Ofcom welcomes the expansion in the number of broadband social tariffs, the low take-up figures demonstrate that more needs to be done to ensure those most in need are aware of the support available.”

Who is eligible for a social tariff?

You need to be claiming Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Income Support.

Typically, those who receive Guarantee Credit, which is a supplement to Pension Credit, also qualify. Some service providers, including Hyperoptic, KCOM, and Vodafone, also provide social tariffs to low-income households that receive benefits that are not means-tested, such as Personal Independence Payment.

The person receiving the benefit will need to be the main person on the contract.

Plus, for small business owners, any new or existing customers who are eligible to upgrade will be able to get free business broadband for 12 months on a 24-month plan.

According to research conducted by the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, an estimated 4.3 million households in the UK qualify.

How to apply for a social tariff

To find a social tariff that works for you, apply online or in a local branch, then bring proof that you meet their requirements.

If your provider offers a social tariff, you can switch to it at any time, free of charge.