The Government has launched a campaign to raise awareness of cut-price social tariffs for broadband and mobile users after figures revealed less than a third of eligible customers had taken advantage.
The UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operators made commitments in the summer to support customers struggling with the cost of living, introducing tariffs starting at £10.
Digital minister Julia Lopez met leaders from the telecoms sector – including BT, Virgin Media, O2, Sky, Vodafone, TalkTalk, Three Mobile, Hyperoptic and Ofcom – at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for an update on work to boost awareness of social tariffs.
Lopez urged the sector to commit to raising awareness of these affordable deals available for people in receipt of Universal Credit, which could save them up to £180 per year when compared to the average tariff.
An Ofcom report in September found that only 31 per cent of eligible groups were aware that social tariffs were available, despite them being available in 99 per cent of the UK to reach those who need the support most.
Lopez said: “Helping families manage the cost of living is a priority for this winter and beyond. It is vital to find out what more we and the telecoms industry can do to support families worried about their bills.
“Everyone should have access to affordable mobile and broadband services. We agreed that more has to be done to raise awareness of social tariffs and stressed the impact price increases have on people and families up and down the country.”
The meeting with telecoms leaders took place on the day the Government launched a UK-wide public awareness campaign as part of its Help for Households programme. The campaign aims to help people through the cost of living this winter and will help increase awareness and uptake of the cut-price broadband and mobile deals available to help those struggling with bills.
As well as agreeing to make vital steps to make sure eligible customers know about social tariffs starting from as little as £10, the industry agreed to share insight into the barriers beyond consumer awareness that are preventing households from taking up social tariffs.
In a move welcomed by the Government, Hyperoptic marked the occasion by announcing that they will be dropping the price of their fastest speed social tariff from £25 to just £20.
Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression Mims Davies said: “We have already made it easier for vulnerable families receiving certain benefits to access cheaper broadband rates through our automatic verification system. I do welcome today’s discussion which further shows our commitment to working innovatively with industry to keep low-income families connected and able to progress as a result of this support.
“Social tariffs are just one of the ways we are assisting households at this challenging time, with millions already receiving £1,200 in direct payments and more on the way next year. I encourage anyone who thinks they might be entitled to further support to check their eligibility via our online benefits calculator.”
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