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Broadband providers told to promote their deals for low-income families after millions miss out

Some 4.2 million universal credit claimants are eligible for discounted broadband - but only 55,000 people have signed up.

Social tarfifs offer discounted broadband deals to low-income families. Image: Pixabay

Broadband providers have been told to start promoting their deals for low-income families after it was revealed millions are missing out on a potential £144 annual saving.

Some 4.2 million universal credit claimants are eligible for discounted broadband packages known as ‘social tariffs’. But regulator Ofcom says only 55,000 people have signed up to them – just 1.2 per cent.

Matthew Upton, policy director at Citizens Advice, said: “We know that one in 10 people aren’t confident they’ll be able to pay their broadband bill in the next three months. This comes as the majority of us face huge increases on our broadband bill, piling on yet more pressure in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“It’s been more than six months since Ofcom and the government started pushing social tariffs as an answer, but the shameful 1 per cent take-up says it all. It’s people on the lowest incomes who are missing out.”

Around 1.1 million households are struggling to currently afford broadband. The figure rises to approximately one in 10 for families from low-income backgrounds.

The current six broadband providers offering the discount are: BT, Virgin Media, O2, Community Fibre, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM.  The packages are between £10 and £20 a month for broadband speeds ranging from 10Mbit/s to 67Mbit/s.

The survey found that 84 per cent of individuals on benefits are unaware of social tariffs. Ofcom emphasises the importance of raising awareness about the introduction of social tariffs, as broadband providers have had limited exposure in promoting them.

Lindsey Fussel, network and communications director of Ofcom said: “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.”

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