Personal Finance

Millions missing out on cheap broadband – are you ignoring chance to save £200 a year?

More than four million people are missing out on cheap broadband which could save them £200 a year.

NimbleFins previously highlighted the little-known social tariff which makes broadband available for as little as £10 a month. Now regulator Ofcom has revealed just 5% of those eligible are signed up to the deal.

Social tariffs are available for people on a number of benefits including Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support.

This equates to about 4.3 million UK households, but only 220,000 have a social tariff.

The deals, which Ofcom says are between £12 and £20 a month, are currently provided by BT, EE, Sky, Virgin Media, NOW, SMARTY, Community Fibre, KCOM, Hyperoptic, G Network and VOXI.

Ofcom is trying to get TalkTalk and O2 to introduce the discounts too.

NimbleFins previously reported BT customers could save £260.16 a year if they switched from its normal broadband and phone package to its social tariff, according to USwitch. That's a saving of £21.68 a month.

Vodafone customers could save £168 a year, or £14 a month, after a switch.

Broadband to rise by £150

Social tariffs could be welcome relief for many broadband customers who face £150 price rises over two years, analysis released in October 2023 suggested.

The majority of Britain's broadband providers raise their prices every April in line with inflation plus an additional 3-3.9%.

Because inflation has been so high, BT, EE, Plusnet, Shell Energy, TalkTalk and Vodafone customers could see increases of more than 8% in 2024, with Virgin billpayers seeing 10% added to their bills, according to Which?

Many have already had to stomach a 14% rise in 2023, as NimbleFins previously reported.

The increases come mid-contract, despite customers signing up for a fixed rate. And if they want to move providers they could be charged early exit fees leaving them trapped.

BT and EE customers who took out an 18 or 24-month deal in January 2023 face rises of more than £147 each, while Vodafone and Plusnet customers could see rises of £122 and £118 respectively, according to the watchdog.

TalkTalk customers face a £76 rise during its 18-month contract.

Shell Energy Broadband paused its price rises for those who joined between January and March 2023. But those who joined before January could see a rise of £45.

Ofcom is reviewing the practice of inflation-linked mid-contract price rises, with a report due in December.

Social tariff broadband benefits

Ofcom estimates an average customer would save £202 a year, with the typical social tariff costing £17 a month, compared to an average of £34 for a standard deal.

Social tariffs not only offer much cheaper broadband, but they are usually shorter-term contracts with no early exit fee, plus prices are fixed for the duration of the contract. Superfast broadband speeds are included.

The good news is the number of providers has increased since January 2022 and now 85% of customers can switch to a social tariff with their existing provider for free.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's group director for network and communications, said: "Hundreds of thousands of customers are now benefitting from the huge savings that can be made from securing a social tariff. But millions are still missing out on superfast speeds for super low prices – with many not aware they even exist.

"We’re urging anyone who thinks they could be eligible for a discount deal to contact their provider today and potentially save hundreds of pounds. Providers should also do much more to help these customers find and access these deals, at a time when these savings could make a massive difference."

Ofcom's campaign comes on the back of its research showing, as of January 2023, 29% of people surveyed were struggling to afford their phone, broadband, paid-TV or streaming services.

For more information on social tariffs, including how to switch to one, click here.

Read more:

Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


NimbleFins Newsletter

Get energy alerts, deals, tips, news, and more!