Half of low-income UK households miss out on broadband social tariffs

More than half of low-income UK households are in the dark about bargain broadband deals that could save them around £200 a year, with just 5% of eligible households signed up to a discounted package.

These special offers, known as social tariffs, are available to an estimated 4.3 million households that receive one of a range of government benefits. The packages offer superfast speeds and a price freeze for the duration of the contract, for as little as £12 a month.

However, despite take-up of social tariffs quadrupling since January 2022, Ofcom’s research shows that just 220,000 (5.1%) are now signed up to these deals, which could slice the annual cost of broadband in half.

During this period, the number of providers offering a broadband social tariff increased significantly, and around 85% of customers are now able to switch to one with their existing provider without paying a fee. In addition, three mobile providers also now offer a social tariff.

However, awareness of these deals remains low, as more than half of eligible households (53%) continue to be unaware of their existence during the cost-of-living crisis.

Ofcom is concerned that broadband providers still aren’t being upfront with millions of customers about how to find and sign up to these packages. So alongside Which?, they are alerting people to the best kept secret in broadband, and urging anyone on a government benefit to contact their provider today to lock in a cheaper deal.

Of eligible customers that are aware of social tariffs, most had heard about them through social media (26%) and television (21%). But just 9% found out about social tariffs through their provider, highlighting how the industry needs to go further to promote their social tariffs effectively and make them easier to find.

Which? has published a new guide rounding up the eligibility criteria and steps people need to take to move to a social tariff with each of the major broadband providers.

Jason Davies

I am one of the editors here at I am a UK based technology professional, with an interest in computer security and telecoms.

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