Millions cutting back on essentials to afford broadband and mobile bills

Around 3.5 million households are estimated to have reduced spending to afford connectivity services.

Millions cutting back on essentials to afford broadband and mobile bills iStock
There are calls for the UK Government to reduce VAT on telecoms bills.

Millions of households across the UK are cutting back on essentials in order to afford their broadband and mobile connections, ministers have been warned.

According to consumer group, Which?, around six million households are struggling to afford to pay for their mobile phone and internet as the cost-of-living crisis hits.

The group has called on the UK Government to cut VAT on household telecoms bills to help out those struggling to keep up with rising prices.

Figures highlighted by Which? indicated that 3.5 million homes are estimated to have reduced their spending on items such as food and clothes to afford their connectivity services in April this year.

It represents an increase of 59% from the estimated 2.2 million in February.

The consumer body said that the fact so many households chose to prioritise their telecoms services “further demonstrates just how essential these services are to modern life”.

Which? suggests that reducing the VAT rate on telecoms to 5% would save the average household £120 per year.

It has also called on providers to support customers struggling to pay their energy bills and to make them aware of any discounts they may be eligible for.

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, insisted businesses must support people who are struggling to afford their bills.

“The fact that millions of households have made sacrifices to prioritise their broadband and mobile connections during the cost-of-living crisis demonstrates just how essential these services are for day-to-day modern life,” said Concha.

“To help cut bill costs, the next prime minister should reduce the VAT paid on telecoms in line with other essential services.

“Businesses must support anyone struggling to afford their bills and ensure consumers are aware of and able to access the best deals.”

A spokesman for the UK Government pointed to its £37bn support package aimed at helping support people with the cost of living across the country.

“We understand that people are struggling with rising prices which is why we have acted to protect the eight million most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits,” he said.

“Through our £37bn support package, we are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on universal credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and cutting fuel duty by 5p, saving a typical family £100.

“We have also secured strong commitments from broadband and mobile companies to help those worried about their bills during this difficult time such as allowing them to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans.”