Following the revelation that only 1 percent of low-income families had taken advantage of cheap broadband services, Ofcom has urged the country’s internet service providers to do more to assist them in saving money on their broadband bills.
The Office of Communications has urged internet providers to offer and more publicly market specifically discounted packages as the cost of living continues to climb.
As a result of its investigation, the regulator discovered that the packages, which are also known as social tariffs, are currently available to approximately 4.2 million households receiving Universal Credit, but that only 55,000 households, or 1.2 percent of those eligible, have taken advantage of the offers so far.
According to Ofcom, as a result, millions of lower-income people were missing out on an average annual savings of £144 per home due to the lack of affordable broadband.
Companies must demonstrate significant increases in the number of consumers they are assisting to switch to these rates within the next six months, or the Government and Ofcom will be forced to intervene. Citizens’ Advice Bureau’s Matthew Upton
It has called on suppliers who already have social tariffs in place to market them more extensively, as well as on other businesses to launch them with quick and simple sign-up choices, so that more people may benefit from the savings available.
“People rely on their broadband connections to stay in touch, work, and learn from the comfort of their own homes. “However, for people who are genuinely struggling with growing expenses, every penny counts,” said Lindsey Fussell, director of the Ofcom’s networks and communications group, in a statement.
A special discount can make all the difference, and too many internet providers are neglecting to market their social tariffs or even to offer them at all. ” We anticipate that businesses will increase their assistance to those with little financial resources, and we will be watching their response.”
According to Ofcom’s most recent data, over 1.1 million households are having difficulty affording their home internet service, with affordability issues expected to intensify in 2022 as the cost of living continues to climb.
There are at least six companies offering special discounted deals, with prices ranging from £10 to £20 a month for broadband speeds ranging from 10Mbit/s to 67Mbit/s, according to the report. These include BT, Community Fibre, G.Network, Hyperoptic, Kcom, and Virgin Media O2.
In addition to urging others to introduce their own social tariffs, Ofcom has urged these companies to ensure that their deals are properly promoted and simple to sign up for, stating that customers should not be discouraged from applying because it appears to be difficult to prove they are eligible.
Approximately one in ten respondents are not confident in their ability to pay their broadband subscription within the next three months, according to our research.”
According to Citizens’ Advice, “this comes at a time when the vast majority of us are facing significant rises in our broadband bills, adding furthermore pressure to an already stressful situation in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.”
More than six months after Ofcom and the Government began promoting social tariffs as an alternative, the shockingly low take-up rate of 1 percent says it all. People with the lowest incomes are the ones who are being left behind.
“If firms are unable to demonstrate significant increases in the number of people they are assisting in moving to these tariffs over the next six months, the Government and Ofcom will be forced to take action.”