The cost of living crisis is prompting people to take a closer look at their finances to find possible ways to reduce their outgoings and with switching energy suppliers currently off the table, one of the most obvious ways is to look at your broadband package.
BT currently offers those on Universal Credit or other means-tested benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) such as Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) a £15 monthly broadband package, while Virgin Media also offers a £15 package for people claiming Universal Credit.
Sky is also offering existing customers a £20 monthly Broadband Basics package, however, if you don’t already have Sky broadband there’s the option of NOW Broadband Basics for £20 each month t00.
Ofcom recently encouraged households to check with their provider for broadband ‘social tariffs’ to help mitigate the rising cost of living and said these are currently available to around 4.2 million people in receipt of Universal Credit, but that only 55,000 homes – 1.2 per cent of those eligible – have taken advantage of the deals so far.
Lindsey Fussell, networks and communications group director at Ofcom, explained: “People rely on their broadband for staying in touch, working and learning from home. But for those who are really struggling with rising bills, every penny counts.
“Special discounts can make all the difference, and too many broadband firms are failing either to promote their social tariff or to offer one at all. We expect companies to step up support for those on low incomes, and we’ll be watching their response .”
Below is everything you need to know about Sky and Now Basics Broadband packages plus a reminder of the social tariffs available from BT and Virgin Media.
Sky Broadband Social Fee – £20 per month
Sky Broadband Basics could be for you if you’re struggling to pay your Sky Broadband bills, but want to stay connected.
The package costs £20 per month for 18 months.
- Sky Broadband Superfast 35 with an average download speed of 36Mb/s
- Or if fiber isn’t available where you live, Sky Broadband Essential Plus with average download speeds of 11Mb/s
- Sky Pay As You Talk – only pay for the calls that you make
It comes with a new 18-month contract, but if you need to leave before it ends, Sky won’t charge you any early exit fees on your broadband.
After 18-months the price will go back to the standard rate, but they will tell you what this will be when you get in touch to take Sky Broadband Basics.
You’ll also get an email to let you know when the price is coming to an end, and you can get in touch to talk about the options available.
You must be an existing Sky broadband customer and need to be claiming Universal Credit or Pension Credit to qualify for Sky Broadband Basics.
Sky will ask you for your National Insurance number so they can check if you’re eligible.
Find out more on Sky.com here.
NOW Broadband Basics – £20 per month
This is a package designed for NOW Broadband members and costs £20 per month on a monthly rolling contract.
- NOW Fab Fiber Membership with an average download speed of 36Mbps
- NOW Calls – the Pay as you Use calls plan included at no extra cost, so you only pay for the calls you make, with no monthly charge
As it’s a monthly contract, you just need to let them know 31 days in advance if you want to cancel, and you won’t need to pay any early exit fees.
To be eligible for NOW Broadband Basics, you must be receiving either Universal Credit or Pension Credit.
Similar to Sky eligibility, you must be claiming Universal Credit or Pension Credit to qualify for Sky Broadband Basics.
NOW will ask you for your National Insurance number so they can check if you’re eligible.
Find out more on NOWTV.com here.
BT Home Essentials – £15 per month
BT Home Essentials is the new name for BT Basic, providing broadband and home phone services to customers on benefits.
Two broadband packages are available with speeds of 36Mb and 67Mb, while customers who just want a landline can sign up for home phone only with unlimited minutes.
The eligibility criteria for BT Home Essentials are tight and customers must be in receipt of certain benefits to qualify.
Eligibility for BT Home Essentials
BT Home Essentials is open to new or existing BT customers who are receiving one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income based or with contributory allowance that is less than the income based portion)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
The person in receipt of an eligible benefit must be the named account holder on their BT Homes Essentials plan.
BT package options
Home Essentials Unlimited Fiber Essentials
- Cost: £15 per month (12 month contract)
- Speed: 36Mb average
- Upfront costs: Free
Home Essentials Unlimited Fiber
- Cost: £20 per month (12 month contract)
- Speed: 67Mb average
- Upfront costs: Free
Home Essentials – Calls Only
- Cost: £10 per month (12 month contract)
- Upfront costs: Free
When a customer applies for BT Home Essentials, they will need to pass an eligibility check. This will include the type of personal information normally supplied when applying for broadband such as surnames and addresses.
However, applicants will also need to supply their date of birth and National Insurance number so their specific eligibility for Home Essentials can be checked.
An option of a security deposit is available for those with low credit scores.
Find out more on the BT Home Essentials here.
Virgin Media Essential Broadband
Virgin Media Essential broadband helps you get online for £15 a month with a 15Mbps fiber broadband speed.
Eligibility for Virgin Media Essential broadband
It’s a broadband-only package available if you’re already a Virgin Media customer and you receive Universal Credit.
To qualify for this pack, Virgin Media needs the account owner to show some proof that they receive Universal Credit before they can set them up.
To apply, just fill in an online application form and they will email you back with how to complete the eligibility checks.
As soon as they go through, they will swap you over and you won’t have to pay any extra fees or charges for changing from your current Virgin Media services.
£15 monthly cost won’t change
Virgin says it will keep you connected at £15 a month for as long as you’re eligible. This means the price of your Essential broadband pack won’t change while you’re receiving Universal Credit payments.
The Essential broadband pack is a broadband-only service, so if you’re currently taking TV and/or home phone with Virgin, these services will be cancelled.
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Flexible 30-day contracts
Essential broadband is a 30-day rolling contract, which means whenever you’re ready to go back to your usual Virgin Media services, just give them a call and they will sort it all out for you.
If you ever want to switch to Essential broadband again, you can just reapply the same way.
Find out more about Virgin Media Essential broadband here.
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