Homes receiving Universal Credit 'miss out' on cut-price broadband deals

Just 3% of Scottish households claiming Universal Credit have taken up 'social tariff' offers.

Scottish households receiving Universal Credit ‘missing out’ on cut-price broadband deals iStock

Over 340,000 people on Universal Credit are thought to be missing out on cheaper broadband deals offered by providers as part of discounted access to services.

An estimated 11,310 households in receipt of the benefit payment have already taken up offers of “social tariffs” designed specifically for those who may face barriers getting online.

The monthly fees, which are offered at a lower rate than standard contracts, are available to all 353,000 eligible Scottish homes.

However, research by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) shows just 3.1% of those who qualify have taken up the offer.

The charity says it is concerned that some may now be missing out on online access due to the cost of living crisis and is urging anyone who may be able to claim the rate to do so.

CAS strong communities spokesperson, Gillian Fyfe, said: “Online access is vital to how people live, work, learn and access public services, cost shouldn’t be a barrier to getting online.

“That is why we want people to check if they are eligible for a cheaper deal on broadband. As the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze household budgets, social tariffs represent a great way for consumers to reduce their costs while maintaining access to what is nowadays an essential utility.

“Hundreds of thousands of people could potentially be missing out.”

Social tariffs are delivered in the same way as normal packages, but at a lower rate.

Major providers including BT, Sky and Virgin Media all offer deals, which will not increase in price during the length of the contract.

The most recent DWP figures show there are 353,448 households on Universal Credit in Scotland.

Ms Fyfe added: “We want to see access and eligibility to social tariffs extended to more people and more providers offering these types of tariffs in both the broadband and mobile markets, so those on low incomes can get more affordable deals to help them get or stay online.”