Poorer households in the UK, many of whom are 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 only 5% of those eligible are signed up.
In January 2023, 30% of households said they had trouble keeping up with phone, broadband, pay-TV, or streaming bills. It serves about 8.1 million households, most of which will be at the lower end of the income spectrum. While 4.3 million households are on welfare and eligible for the social tariff, only 220,000 households have signed up.
Broadband providers are not keen to spill the beans on social tariffs, based on Ofcom’s findings. 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 more needed to be done to make it easier to find providers.
“Millions of customers are now benefiting from the huge savings that can be made by securing the Social Tariff. But millions are still missing out on fast speeds due to extremely low prices – many don’t even know they have. There are,” said Lindsay Fussell, Ofcom’s Group Director, Networks and Communications. “We are urging anyone who thinks they may be eligible for a discount deal to contact their provider today and potentially save hundreds of pounds. Providers are encouraged to find these deals and More must be done to help access them, at a time when these savings can make a huge difference.”
By switching to the social tariff, Ofcom estimates that customers could save around £202 per year or around £17 per month. It said £411 was the typical annual spend on the nearest commercial tariff with the same provider. On the equivalent social tariff, the annual cost falls to £209 per year or £17 per month.
To help spread awareness about social tariffs, Ofcom is asking suppliers. To review their Social Tariff web pages. It wants to ensure that the information is accurate and understandable and highlights the safeguards included in the social tariff. Additionally, it has asked TalkTalk and O2 to introduce social tariffs. In the meantime, it wants them to waive the fee for those who join another company to access the social tariff.
Even if you’re not a welfare claimant and don’t have access to the social tariff, shopping around can yield huge savings. On the mobile front, which one? Smarty, Giffgaff, and iD Mobile have recently been named as great value providers. There are also many comparison websites that you can use to easily find the cheapest deals in the market. If you’re out of contract, you’re very likely paying a huge premium on your broadband, so definitely shop around if you’re struggling for money.