Broadband Internet UK

Social Broadband Tariffs - Broadband For People On Benefits

by , last updated

Broadband Social Tariffs

In today's digital age, having a fast, stable and secure internet connection is crucial. However, for many low-income households in the UK, the cost of broadband can be a barrier to online access.

Fortunately, there's a solution: social broadband tariffs. They're discounted offers from broadband providers to make the internet more affordable to those low-income families on benefits - and they're particularly useful to have in the current cost of living crisis where household bills are continuing to go up.

Many major broadband providers offer social tariffs for people on benefits such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit. However, many eligible households are yet to take advantage of such cost-effective packages.

In this guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of social broadband tariffs so you can see if you qualify. So let's dive in.

In this guide: 1. What Are Social Broadband Tariffs? 2. Who Is Eligible For A Social Broadband Tariff? 3. Why Should I Sign Up For A Broadband Social Tariff? 4. Which Broadband Providers Offer A Social Tariff? 5. Vodafone Social Tariff 6. BT Social Tariff 7. Sky Social Tariff 8. TalkTalk Social Tariff 9. Compare Social Broadband Tariffs 10. What If I Don't Qualify For A Social Tariff? - What Other Help Is Available?


1. What Are Social Broadband Tariffs?

Social broadband tariffs are discounted broadband deals and phone packages tailored for families who claim benefits such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or other government assistance programs.

The main goal of broadband social tariffs is to make the internet accessible for financially struggling families.

Although most broadband providers offer discounted broadband and phone packages for low-income households, only 8.3% of eligible families have signed up for these tariffs.

That's not because getting a social tariff is difficult, it's due to the fast that most low-income households aren't aware that social broadband tariffs exist.

A recent study by Ofcom in October 2023 found that around 4.3 million households are eligible for discounted broadband deals, but only 380,000 had signed up for these deals so far.

The study also reported that 55% of families were not familiar with social broadband tariffs, which is why they're missing out on such money-saving deals.

This would probably also explain why around one million people have cancelled their broadband in the last year as they are unable to afford it. (As reported in May 2023 by the Citizens Advice Bureau).


2. Who Is Eligible For A Social Broadband Tariff?

Eligibility for social broadband tariffs varies depending on the provider and the benefits you're receiving.

For instance, some providers only offer social tariffs to Universal Credit recipients, while other suppliers consider people eligible if they're on Council Tax Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance.

Generally speaking, you can qualify for most broadband social tariffs if you have any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

It's worth noting that some providers, such as KCOM and Vodafone, provide social tariffs to struggling families that receive non-means-tested benefits, like the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

3. Why Should I Sign Up For A Broadband Social Tariff?

Social broadband tariffs can be a life-changer for low-income families. If you're eligible for a broadband social tariff, here are some reasons you should sign up:

Affordability

Social broadband tariffs are tailored to be affordable to low-income households as the prices start from as low as £12 per month.

Moreover, social tariffs are protected from inflationary annual price rises, which is a strategy used by broadband providers to raise their annual prices based on inflation.

That said, social broadband tariffs can save you up to £200 per year. That's around half of the average cost of a regular broadband connection.

Moreover, switching to a social tariff with your current provider won't cost you extra cancellation fees and the prices won't rise during your contract.

Fast & Reliable Connection

When it comes to social broadband tariffs, cheap prices don't always mean a slow connection.

That's because there's a wide range of speeds to choose from. Some providers offer standard speed connections (10-15 Mbps) while others offer superfast broadband speeds (up to 150 Mbps).

It's worth noting that access to such fast connections may be limited to some areas in the UK.

Extra Benefits

Depending on your provider, you might be eligible for extra benefits alongside the affordable internet connection.

For instance, Virgin Media offer a Stream TV service if you apply for its Essential Broadband Plus social tariff. That way, you get a Stream TV box with access to more than 40 free TV channels alongside a fast, reliable and cheap internet connection.


4. Which Broadband Providers Offer Social Tariffs?

In this section, we'll go through some of the most affordable social tariff broadband packages for low-income families and pensioners. Please note these are a selection only. Broadband social tariffs are also available from NOW and Virgin Media which are shown in the comparison table further below.

5. Vodafone Broadband Social Tariff For Low Income Families / Pensioners

Amid the rise in living costs, Vodafone offers an affordable, fast and reliable fibre broadband package with download speeds up to 38Mbps for only £12 per month.

To be eligible for the Vodafone Essentials Broadband tariff, you need to be receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance

Current Vodafone customers who are considered financially vulnerable are also eligible for this package.

Find out more at the Vodafone website.

6. BT Broadband Home Essentials Social Tariff For Low Income Families / Pensioners

BT believes everyone should be able to use the internet and pick up phone calls daily. That's why they offer a Home Essentials plan for people receiving certain state benefits.

The Home Essentials plan from BT is an affordable method to have a fast internet connection alongside an optional phone package.

There are three BT Home essentials plans to choose from:

Plan 1. BT Home Essentials: Unlimited Fibre Essential Plan

This plan includes fibre broadband with an average speed of 36Mbps, plus 700 minutes of talk time per month to UK mobiles and landlines. The plan costs £15 per month.

Plan 2. BT Home Essentials: Unlimited Fibre Plan

With this plan you'll get fibre broadband with an average speed of 67Mbps, plus unlimited minutes of talk time to UK mobiles and landlines. The plan costs £20 a month.

Plan 3. BT Home Essentials: Call Only Plan

This plan is for customers who aren't eager to go online but still want to stay in touch with others through phone calls. It features unlimited minutes of talk time per month to UK landlines and mobiles for only £10 a month.

The BT Home Essentials plan is available for anyone receiving one or more of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

Find out more and sign up online at the BT website.


7. Sky Broadband Basics Social Tariff For Low Income Families / Pensioners

Sky Broadband Basics is a cost-effective essential broadband package designed for existing Sky Broadband customers struggling with their bills.

This package costs £20 per month for 18 months, and if you cancel your subscription earlier, you won't be charged any termination fees.

The package includes a superfast fibre broadband connection with an average download speed of 36Mbps, plus Sky Pay As You Talk, which means you only pay for the calls you make.

To qualify for the Sky social tariff, you need to be receiving any of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

Find out more at the Sky website.

8. TalkTalk Broadband Assistance For Job Seekers

TalkTalk do not have a social tariff like the ones described above. Instead, they have partnered with the Department For Work & Pensions to offer eligible job seekers six months FREE broadband.

The six months free offer applies to TalkTalk's Fibre 35 package which has unlimited download speeds of 38Mbps. The price reverts to £27 a month from month seven.

Customers who think they may qualify need to speak with their local Job Centre who make the final decision on eligibility.

9. Compare Social Broadband Tariffs

Please use our table below to compare the broadband social tariffs available from Vodafone, TalkTalk, BT, Sky, NOW and Virgin Media.

Provider Package Details Average Speed* Download Limit Contract Period Costs More Info
Vodafone Essentials Broadband

Average speed*: 38Mb,
Download limit: Unlimited,
£0 setup,
1st year cost £144,
£12* per month
5 Star Rating
Vodafone Essentials Broadband
*For 12 months. Includes home phone line rental. No in-contract price increase.
38Mb Unlimited 12 months Monthly cost £12.00* 1st year cost: £144.00
£0.00 setup
No Setup Fees + No Early Exit Fees

Find out more at Vodafone

Wi-Fi Hub + Security
TalkTalk Fibre 35 Broadband

Average speed*: 38Mb,
Download limit: Unlimited,
£0 setup,
1st year cost £162,
£0 per month*
3.5 Star Rating
TalkTalk Fibre 35 Broadband
*For 6 months, £27p/m after. Includes TalkTalk monthly phone line rental cost
38Mb Unlimited 18 months Monthly cost £0.00* 1st year cost: £162.00
£0.00 setup
6 Months FREE

Speak to your Job Centre

For Eligible Job Seekers Only
BT Home Essentials Unlimited Fibre Essential Plan + 700 Minutes A Month To UK Landlines And Mobiles

Average speed*: 36Mb,
Download limit: Unlimited,
£9.99 setup,
1st year cost £189.99,
£15* per month
5 Star Rating
BT Home Essentials Unlimited Fibre Essential Plan + 700 Call Minutes To UK Landlines & Mobiles
*For 12 months. Includes landline phone service. No in-contract price increase.
36Mb Unlimited 12 months Monthly cost £15.00* 1st year cost: £189.99
£9.99 setup
Instant Online Eligibility Check + No Early Exit Fees

Find out more at BT

Powerful Smart Hub + Speed Guarantee + 24/7 Security As Standard
Sky Broadband Basics

Average speed*: 36Mb,
Download limit: Unlimited,
£0 setup,
1st year cost £240,
£20* per month
5 Star Rating
Sky Broadband Basics + Sky Pay As You Talk
*For 18 months. Includes landline phone service. No in-contract price increase.
36Mb Unlimited 18 months Monthly cost £20.00* 1st year cost: £240.00
£0.00 setup
No Setup Fees + No Early Exit Fees

Find out more at Sky

Available To Existing Sky Broadband Customers Only
NOW Broadband Basics

Average speed*: 36Mb,
Download limit: Unlimited,
£0 setup,
1st year cost £240,
£20* per month
4 Star Rating
NOW Broadband Basics Fab Fibre + Pay As You Use Call Plan
*Ongoing monthly contract. Includes landline phone service. No in-contract price increase.
36Mb Unlimited 1 month Monthly cost £20.00* 1st year cost: £240.00
£0.00 setup
No Setup Fees + No Exit Fees

Find out more at NOW

Flexible Monthly Contract
Virgin Media Essential Broadband Plus

Average speed*: 54Mb,
Download limit: Unlimited,
£0 setup,
1st year cost £240,
£20* per month
4.5 Star Rating
Virgin Media Essential Broadband Plus
*30-day rolling contract. No in-contract price increase.
54Mb Unlimited 1 month Monthly cost £20.00* 1st year cost: £240.00
£0.00 setup
No Setup Fees + No Exit Fees

Find out more at Virgin Media

Flexible 30-Day Rolling Contract

10. What If I Don't Qualify For A Social Tariff? - What Other Help Is Available?

Social broadband tariffs are discounted broadband and phone packages for families struggling to pay their broadband bills.

To be eligible for these deals, you need to be receiving certain benefits such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or Income Support.

If you don't qualify for a broadband social tariff and you're struggling to pay your broadband bill, we'd recommend speaking to your provider. There may be payment plans you can utilise or the option to downgrade to a cheaper package.

If you're near the end of your contract, you may be able to get a cheaper deal by switching broadband supplier. Average broadband speeds of around 36Mbps are currently available from £22.99 a month - and with no setup fees. Use our broadband checker to find out what's available in your area or check out our blog for the latest broadband deals.

About The Author, Steve Tattersall

Steve Tattersall Steve Tattersall is a broadband technology writer with 20 years experience within the Internet industry. Based in Hampshire, England, he founded the BBC recognised broadband information site, BroadbandInternetUk.com, in 2004 and is currently the Director Of Marketing & Operations. During this time he has helped thousands of people across the UK with their Internet requirements by compiling a comprehensive range of broadband information, comparison tools and guides, all delivered on BroadbandInternetUk.com. A graduate of Buckinghamshire New University (Brunel Business School) with a first class honours degree in Business, Steve has first hand experience of working for a broadband provider, having had a previous career at the broadband supplier NTL. Following its merger with rival Telewest, NTL is now known as Virgin Media, one of the UK's leading broadband, phone & TV providers. If you would like to contact Steve, please visit the contact us page or follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora. You can also find out more about BroadbandInternetUk.com on our about us page.

Back to the top of this page

Back to Top

Back to Top