- New system allows customers to allow broadband providers to confirm eligibility for cheaper deals
- The plans come alongside other deals struck by the cost-of-living czar and former Just Eat boss David Buttress as part of the government Household assistance country
- Further rounds of cost of living offers will provide additional support for families when children return to school
Broadband bills could be reduced for millions of low-income households under government plans to encourage ‘social tariffs ».
A new service, which will go live next week and run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), will allow internet service providers to check – with customers’ permission – whether they are receiving a relevant and are therefore eligible for additional financial support.
The government has called on all broadband providers to offer and promote social tariffs – discounted broadband and mobile deals for those on Universal Credit and other benefits – with statistics showing that only 1.2% of eligible people have taken advantage of such a package.
The scheme is already backed by Virgin Media O2 which, following discussions with the government, today announced that it will use the system to verify that eligible customers are signing up for their Essential Broadband tariff. The company will also waive early termination fees for those leaving existing rates.
Customers benefiting from social tariffs could in some cases save more than one hundred pounds a year. The new system will also simplify the process by removing the need for customers to prove their entitlement to broadband providers as regularly as monthly. Social tariffs are available to eligible customers in 99% of the country following government-led negotiations with broadband companies.
The government’s Cost of Living Affairs Czar, David Buttress, welcomed the new scheme and pledged to continue working with industry to scale up and promote existing social fares, as well as to encourage all suppliers to offer a reduced rate.
Cost of Living Affairs Czar David Buttress said:
Times are tough and families across the country are feeling the pinch, which is why we’re making it easier for businesses to lower phone and broadband bills for struggling families.
Some of the largest network operators have already committed to take advantage of this new feature and we want to see other operators follow their example so that anyone eligible for a social tariff can access it.
This is just one of the ways we are working with businesses to offer help through our Household Aid campaign, building on the comprehensive £37billion support package already provided by the government.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, said:
It’s more important than ever that people get the financial support they have, including cheaper broadband for welfare recipients, and this change makes those social tariffs even easier to access.
I want to thank the providers who have led the way in moving customers to lower rates, and I encourage others to follow this example to help millions of households lower their bills.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:
Social tariffs are vital for families struggling with bills, keeping them connected even in difficult times.
Our discussion with broadband companies has led to the range of social tariffs in the market today and we have secured a series of new cost of living commitments from them to ensure that help is available to anyone who needs it.
I urge anyone concerned about late payment to contact their provider to see what assistance is available.
ISPs will be required to obtain consent from customers before speaking to DWP about their eligibility. DWP will minimize the information provided, sharing nothing other than confirmation that the individual is entitled to an eligible benefit at the time of contact. This ensures that applicants’ data remains as secure as possible.
Alongside today’s launch of the scheme, the government’s cost of living czar, David Buttress, also announced a new round of cost of living offers and discounts under the scheme. government. Household assistance country.
The agreements have been negotiated with some of the UK’s biggest companies and follow those already announced last month to access the full range of offers.
New offers include:
A new tailor-made agreement with the Scholastic publishing house, which offers a 20% reduction on children’s books. Scholastic will also donate an additional 20% of all order values over £10 in rewards to local schools to spend on books and resources to help stock libraries and classrooms.
A curated set of back to school deals from Amazon, with discounts ranging from backpacks and school uniforms, including up to 30% off Clarks school shoes, to deals on stationery essentials from BIC, Staedtler and Papermate. Amazon Fresh also offers savings, from lunchbox essentials to laundry detergent.
A number of other Help for Households partners including Marks & Spencer, Primark, Shoezone, ZSL and Go-ahead have also agreed to promote their existing support schemes as part of the Help for Households campaign to raise awareness. For example, ZSL is offering new £3 tickets for London Zoo and Whipsnade.
Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said:
Connectivity is a lifeline people can’t live without, and as one of the first providers to introduce social broadband pricing in 2020, we’re committed to making customer support as easy as possible. for the cost of living. crisis. We are working to implement the API as soon as possible to make it easier and faster to sign up for our social rate as part of an overall plan to increase awareness, availability and attractiveness of Essential Broadband.
Catherine Bell, Co-Group Managing Director, Scholastic UK, said:
We are delighted to be part of the government’s household aid campaign. We recognize the pressures the current cost of living crisis is placing and understand that back to school can be a very costly time for parents. We believe that reading for children’s enjoyment is more important than ever and through our school book clubs we are pleased to offer a wide range of books with a special Household Help discount for September at which parents can access through their school organizer or by visiting our Book Clubs website. With every Book Club purchase comes the added benefit that Scholastic will donate an additional 20% of all order values over £10 in rewards to your local school to spend on books and resources to help supply libraries and classrooms.
Kathryn England, COO of ZSL London Zoo, said:
The thrill and awe of a visit to ZSL London or Whipsnade Zoo is something we want as many people as possible to experience. Our Community Access Program ensures that cost is not a barrier to this. In partnership with the UK Government’s Household Support Scheme, every day during the remainder of the summer school holidays (until Sunday 4th September) we are providing additional tickets to London or Whipsnade Zoo, from £3 per person – helping us to introduce even more people to the wonders of the animal kingdom. Our zoos help inspire a lifelong love of wildlife. Home to endangered species from around the world, we aim to empower everyone who visits our zoos to help us protect these animals. Now, more than ever, it’s so important for everyone to have a better understanding of nature and the role we can all play in helping to protect our precious planet. Just visit www.zsl.org/CAS to know more.
The government’s cost-of-living affairs czar is working to secure further deals as part of the household aid drive to be announced in the coming weeks and months.