Broadband help packages - check to see if you could save £250 a year on a social tariff

Could you be one of the four million households missing out on help with broadband via your provider's social tariff?

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If you are on low income and struggling to keep up with broadband price rises, then you may qualify for help with broadband costs via your provider's social tariff. 

It’s still a little-known source of support: only 136,000 out of the 4.2 million who are eligible are signed up.

Social tariffs are available to households receiving financial support, such as Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, who can’t afford the typical cost of a broadband connection. 

They can work out significantly cheaper than regular broadband tariffs, with consumer champion Which? estimating social tariffs can save eligible households an average of £250 a year (opens in new tab). But, social tariffs are not offered by all broadband providers. 

While BT, Vodafone, Sky and Virgin Media as well as smaller suppliers KCOM (opens in new tab), Hyperoptic (opens in new tab) and GNetwork (opens in new tab) offer them, 75% of those eligible are actually with a supplier that does not offer them. To switch to a supplier that does, there are high exit fees to pay. 

While groups like Citizens Advice have tried to promote the tariffs on social media there is still a lack of awareness.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is also making it easier for low-income households to get discounted broadband deals. 

Going through the DWP scheme means you don’t have to show you are claiming active benefits with evidence like Universal Credit paperwork. 

Instead, the broadband provider can identify if you’re eligible for a social tariff, reach out to you and ask you if discounted broadband is of interest. 

Then, the broadband provider will go straight to DWP who will do the benefits and eligibility checks, making it a hassle-free journey for customers. 

Sky broadband and NOW are already part of the scheme, and opting for them could save you around £180 per year. 

So how do these social broadband tariffs work, and what will they cost you?

BEST SOCIAL BROADBAND TARIFFS RIGHT NOW

Here’s what’s on offer in the market right now, so you can take advantage of the best social broadband deals.

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PROVIDERPACKAGEPRICE per monthTERMAVERAGE SPEEDCRITERIA
VodafoneVodafone Essentials Broadband (opens in new tab)£12 (£22 once contract ends)12 months + no exit fee38MbpsYou must claim either Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
Virgin MediaVirgin Media Essential Broadband (opens in new tab)£12.5030-day rolling contract15MbpsYou must receive Universal Credit. Only available to Virgin Media customers.
4th Utility 4th Utility Social Tariff (opens in new tab)£14.4030-day rolling contract30MbpsProof of Benefits
KCOMKCOM Full Fibre Flex (opens in new tab)£14.9930-day rolling contract30MbpsOnly available in Hull and East Yorkshire. Must receive benefits (find full list here (opens in new tab)).
BT BT Home Essential (opens in new tab)£1512 months + no exit fee36MbpsYou must receive either Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (Eligibility rules apply), Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Jobseeker’s Allowance (Eligibility rules apply) or Income Support
Country ConnectCountry Connect Social Tariff (opens in new tab)£1512 months + no exit fee50MbpsMust receive either Employment and Support Allowance (eligibility rules apply), Jobseeker’s Allowance (eligibility rules apply), Income Support, Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) or Universal Credit (all claimants)
G.NetworkG.Network Essential Fibre Broadband (opens in new tab)£1512 Months50MbpsOnly available in London. Show proof of either Universal Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit (guarantee credit), Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
HyperopticHyperoptic Fair Fibre 50 (opens in new tab)£1530-day rolling contract50MbpsMust show proof of either Income Support, Pension Credit, Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers support or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
WightFibreWightFibre Essential Broadband (opens in new tab)£16.5030-day rolling contract100MbpsOnly Available in Isle of Wight. Eligible if you are claiming Universal Credit or Pension Credit.
Grayshott GigabitGrayshott Gigabit Social Tariff (opens in new tab)£2030-day rolling contract100MbpsOnly available in East Hampshire, Surrey Hills, surrounding areas. You must show proof of Universal Credit (with zero earnings), Pension Credit or Income support.
Air BroadbandAir Support Package (opens in new tab)£2012 months100MbpsMust show Proof of Benefits Letter from the last 3 months.
BT BT Home Essentials 2£20Find out when you check eligibility 67MbpsYou must receive either Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (Eligibility rules apply), Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Jobseeker’s Allowance (Eligibility rules apply) or Income Support.
Sky Sky Broadband Basics (opens in new tab)£2018 months36MbpsYou must show proof of either Universal Credit or Pension Credit and be named on the Universal or Pension Credit monthly statement to qualify.
NOWNOW Broadband Basics (opens in new tab)£2030-day rolling contract 36MbpsYou must show proof of Universal Credit or Pension Credit.
HyperopticHyperoptic Fair Fibre 150 (opens in new tab)£2530-day rolling contract150MbpsMust show proof of either Income Support, Pension Credit, Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers support or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

What help can I get from Vodafone for broadband costs?

Vodafone is the latest provider to move into social tariffs, with its Vodafone Essentials Broadband (opens in new tab) deal that costs only £12 a month for 12 months.

Its new offer is for customers who claim Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

The new offer comes to £144 a year and allows eligible customers to save £10 a month - or £120 a year - when compared to Vodafone Fibre 1, the network’s cheapest broadband deal on the market.

There is no set-up fee to pay, and you can leave for free at any time - which is another benefit as you usually have to pay a penalty or exit fee if you want to leave early before your deal ends.

After 12 months, Vodafone will reassess whether you are still eligible for the deal.

There’s also a separate mobile broadband deal known as the Voxi for Now (opens in new tab) for customers on the same benefits mentioned.

This deal offers unlimited 15G data, calls and texts for £10 for up to six months. Vodafone said the package is worth around £35 a month.

How can Sky help me with broadband  costs?

Sky is another new entrant to the world of social tariffs with its Sky Broadband Basics package. It costs £20 a month and is for existing customers only. The tariff offers 36Mb/s broadband for 18 months, and usually costs £25 a month.

The same deal is available if you have Now TV, as it is part of Sky, but is called Now Broadband Basics.

To qualify you have to be claiming Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

Help with broadband costs: what is BT doing?

BT’s social tariff comes in the form of its Home Essentials package (opens in new tab), which includes broadband at speeds of 36Mb/s and 700 minutes of landline calls for £15 a month. The usual deal costs around £28 a month. 

To qualify you have to be claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pensions Credit or Employment and Support Allowance.

What is Virgin Media doing to help with broadband costs?

Virgin’s social tariff is its Essential deal (opens in new tab), which costs £15 a month and is for existing customers only. 

Unlike BT, its deal doesn’t include calls and its broadband is slower with an average speed of 15Mb/s - that’s half the average speed you normally get from fibre broadband. 

To qualify you have to be claiming Universal Credit or show you are facing financial difficulty.

How is TalkTalk helping customers with broadband costs?

TalkTalk (opens in new tab) does not offer a social tariff, but has a separate scheme which offers free broadband for six months through a partnership with Jobcentre Plus. Jobseekers can claim six months of the provider’s Fibre35 broadband, which normally costs £22 a month, without an actual contract. Fibre35 provides average speeds of 38Mb/s.

To qualify you have to be claiming Universal Credit and have a work coach through the Job Centre. This is because the scheme is run in partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

To claim your free six months of free broadband you need to use your DWP referral code, which should be sent automatically. You can ask your work coach at the Job Centre if you struggle to find it.

Help with broadband costs: what is Hyperoptic doing?

Hyperoptic (opens in new tab)offers two social tariffs for low-income households. Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50 costs £15 a month for broadband at 50Mp/s and you can opt to pay an extra £3 a month for a landline with free evening and weekend calls.

Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 150 offers the same benefits but has a much faster broadband speed of 150Mp/s and costs £25 a month.

Hyperoptic is a smaller provider than the likes of BT, Virgin and TalkTalk so its broadband coverage is less extensive. You can check the broadband coverage map (opens in new tab) on the Hyperoptic website to see if its service is available at your property.

To qualify for Hyperoptic’s social tariffs you have to be claiming Universal Credit, Income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, housing benefit or Pension Credit.

What is GNetwork doing to help with broadband costs?

GNetwork’s Essential Fibre (opens in new tab) tariff offers broadband at 50Mp/s for just £15 a month.

Note that GNetwork is a London-only provider and its broadband coverage does not cover all of London, so you will need to double check if its network is appropriate for you.

To qualify you have to be claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit.

Help with broadband costs: what is KCOM doing?

KCOM’s Full Fibre Flex (opens in new tab) offers broadband at 30Mp/s for just £19.99 a month. The deal also includes 20 local calls and 60 minutes of calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers.

Note that KCOM only covers south-east Yorkshire, so it won’t be an option for everyone.

To qualify you have to be claiming Universal Credit (with zero earnings), Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Pension Credit. 

You can also apply for the tariff if you are a care leaver, or a care home resident if you are referred via social services.

Katie Binns

Katie is staff writer at The Money Edit. She was the former staff writer at The Times and The Sunday Times. Her experience includes writing about personal finance, culture, travel and interviews celebrities.  Her investigative work on financial abuse resulted in a number of mortgage prisoners being set free - and a nomination for the Best Personal Finance Story of the Year in the Headlinemoney awards 2021.

With contributions from