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Millions of households missing out on cheap broadband

Ofcom has published its consumer broadband affordability report, finding only 220,000 households have signed up for a broadband social tariff.

Broadband social tariffs are broadband contracts at a discounted rate. They're available to people on benefits and universal credit. Many mainstream broadband providers offer social tariffs and customers receive the same level of service as anyone else on the network.

The number of social tariff subscribers is up from the last 6 months (136,000) but the 220,000 subscribers, only represent about 5.1% of households that are eligible. This means millions more could be saving around £200.

Ofcom found that the majority (53%) are unaware social tariffs exist. This is a reminder to providers that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the contracts for low-income and vulnerable households.

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, comments: “Soaring mid-contract price rises and recent high-profile outages have undermined the message that broadband is an essential service and, at times, Ofcom has looked slow to respond to the challenges consumers are facing.

“The fresh drive on social tariffs, along with the new Smart Data Council, designed to help nudge consumers onto the best value deals, suggests the ship is slowly being turned around.

“The rise of social tariffs has been a success story, but plenty more needs to be done. The lack of awareness about these discounted packages, among many customers who need them the most, remains a large blot on the industry’s copybook.

“While the regulator cannot force the introduction of social tariffs, it can and should do more to pressure companies to promote them properly. Providers have had enough time to get used to these rates and should be making them easy to find. Sadly, on some websites, these deals are hidden away like Easter eggs, while more expensive and higher margin packages take centre stage.

“As the UK’s fourth-largest provider, TalkTalk also needs to offer a social tariff, alongside their voucher scheme for jobseekers, to make sure they are giving a proper safety net for vulnerable customers.

“Households who are not eligible for a social tariff but struggling with their broadband costs should contact their provider as soon as possible. If they are out of contract, they will also be able to save money by switching to another supplier.”

Meet the author:

Broadband Expert

Alex came on board in October 2016 and in that time has risen to Broadband Genie’s resident broadband expert. For the last 7 years, he has appeared all over the UK press, giving expert advice about anything and everything related to broadband.

Specialist subject: Fighting the consumer's corner on all things broadband.

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