In the last year, a million people have disconnected their broadband because they could not afford it, a survey by Citizens Advice has found.
The research included 6,000 respondents, 1,215 of that are in receipt of Universal Credit. The survey found these customers are more than six times as likely to have disconnected compared to people not claiming Universal Credit.
Support is available for people claiming benefits and Universal Credit. The majority of mainstream providers offer broadband social tariffs, that retail from £12 a month for a fixed line connection. However, these aren't mandatory and are usually difficult to find on a provider's site.
As a result, only 5% of eligible customers take advantage of the savings available.
For broadband customers that don't receive benefits, overall, there are 7.4 million broadband customers that are out of contract and could be saving £227 by switching to a new deal.
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.”
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