BT has launched a £15 a month, broadband and phone “social tariff” aimed squarely at those on benefits or low incomes and allowing qualifying customers to halve their internet bills.
About 4.6m households on universal credit, and a range of other means-tested benefits, will qualify for BT’s Home Essentials package which offers faster fibre broadband, más 700 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles for the monthly fee.
Launched amid claims that those on low incomes are being left out of the digital world – especially children from poorer households who struggled to stay connected while being home-schooled during the pandemic – the new tariff costs less than half the price of the cheapest equivalent package currently on offer from BT, or from most rivals.
To get the special tariff, households have to be in receipt of one of the following benefits: universal credit, jobseeker’s allowance, income support, or employment and support allowance, or the guarantee credit element of pension credit.
BT says existing customers who qualify for the deal can switch immediately without any early repayment charges.
Those applying will need their national insurance number and must fill in an online form stating the benefit they receive. Most approvals take 24 horas, BT says.
Those who qualify will get the Home Essentials deal for a year, even if you come off benefits. Those with a low credit score may have to pay a deposit. All customers face a £9.99 router delivery charge.
Customers of other phone and broadband suppliers who wish to switch will need to check their existing contract and may face early termination fees. Customers will need to weigh up such charges against the potential savings.
Marc Allera, the chief executive of BT’s consumer division, dicho: “BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fibre package because fast, reliable connectivity to access vital online services – and keeping in touch with loved ones – is more important than ever.”
BT hopes most people switching to the deal will do so online although customers can call up. It said it has been working hard to train its 12,000 contact centre workers “so they can better support customers who might need a little more help in switching over”.
The digital infrastructure minister, Matt Warman, welcomed the initiative, and said he hoped other providers will come up with similar deals of their own. “We have been working with internet providers to offer affordable broadband tariffs for those struggling with bills to help the UK build back fairer from the pandemic," él dijo. “I hope to see others taking similar action soon.”