The government has rolled out a new system that will help broadband providers easily verify whether customers are in receipt of social care, so they can be offered discounted tariffs for their internet connectivity.
Broadband providers have offered social tariffs for years – available to those on the lowest incomes and giving discounts of around £100 on the cheapest regular plan. However, difficulty in submitting proof of suitability (or simply not knowing such tariffs were available) meant that uptake was notoriously low. In fact, only 1.2% of all those eligible are thought to have taken up the offers available to them so far.
One major stumbling block was the sheer volume of admin needed to continue such a tariff. In extreme cases, consumers had to prove their entitlement (by submitting screenshots of their Universal Credit account or letters from the Jobcentre) every month.
Now, the government has taken steps to try and remedy the issue and make the process easier for both consumers and broadband providers, in a bid to help combat ever-increasing costs of living.
The Department for Work and Pensions is launching and running a new tool that will enable broadband providers to verify whether a customer is eligible for a social tariff (where the individual has given their permission for their data to be shared in this way).
Virgin Media and O2 have already come out in support of the scheme, with others expected to join shortly.
The government’s cost of living business tsar, David Buttress, told Sky News: “Some of the biggest network operators have already committed to take advantage of this new scheme, and we want to see other providers follow their lead so that everyone eligible for a social tariff can access one.”
He added that the new scheme was just one way the government is trying to help those on the lowest incomes deal with rising prices; the new ‘Help for Households’ scheme building on the £37 billion package of support already being provided.