The cost of living crisis has people taking a closer look at their finances to find possible ways to reduce their expenses and with switching energy providers currently out of the question, one of the most obvious ways is to look at your broadband package.
BT currently offers people on Universal Credit or other Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a £15 monthly broadband plan, while Virgin Media also offers a £15 monthly plan. package for people claiming universal credit.
Sky is also offering existing customers a monthly Broadband Basics plan for £20, however, if you don’t already have Sky broadband there is the option of NOW Broadband Basics for £20 each month t00.
Ofcom recently encouraged households to check with their provider for ‘social tariffs’ for broadband to help mitigate the rising cost of living and said they are currently available to around 4.2million people benefiting from universal credit, but that only 55,000 households – 1.2% of those eligible – have taken advantage of the offers so far.
Lindsey Fussell, Group Director of Networks and Communications at Ofcom, explained: “People rely on their broadband to stay in touch, work and learn from home. But for those who are really struggling with rising bills, every penny counts.
“Special discounts can make all the difference, and too many broadband companies fail to promote their social rate or offer one. We expect companies to step up their support for low-income people, and we We will monitor their response.”
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about Sky and Now Basics broadband packages plus a reminder of the social rates available from BT and Virgin Media.
Sky Broadband Social Rate – £20 per month
Sky Broadband Basics could be for you if you’re struggling to pay your Sky Broadband bills, but want to stay connected.
The plan costs £20 per month for 18 months.
- Sky Broadband Superfast 35 with an average download speed of 36Mb/s
- Or if fiber isn’t available where you live, Sky Broadband Essential Plus with average download speeds of 11Mbps
- Sky Pay As You Talk – only pay for the calls you make
It comes with a new 18-month contract, but if you have to leave before the end, Sky won’t charge you any early exit fees on your broadband.
After 18 months the price will revert to the standard rate, but they’ll tell you what it will be when you get in touch to take Sky Broadband Basics.
You will also receive an email to let you know when the price ends and you can contact us to discuss the options available.
You must be an existing Sky Broadband customer and apply for Universal Credit or Pension Credit to qualify for Sky Broadband Basics.
Sky will ask for your national insurance number to check if you are eligible.
Learn more about Sky.com here.
NOW Broadband Basics – £20 per month
This is a package designed for NOW Broadband members and costs £20 per month on a rolling monthly contract.
- NOW Fab Fiber Membership with an average download speed of 36 Mbps
- Calls NOW – Pay as you Use calling plan included at no extra cost, so you only pay for the calls you make, no monthly fees
Since it’s a monthly contract, all you need to do is let them know 31 days in advance if you want to cancel, and you won’t have to pay an early exit fee.
To be eligible for NOW Broadband Basics, you must receive either Universal Credit or Pension Credit.
Similar to Sky eligibility, you must apply for Universal Credit or Pension Credit to qualify for Sky Broadband Basics.
NOW will ask for your national insurance number so they can check if you are eligible.
Learn more about NOWTV.com here.
BT Home Essentials – £15 per month
BT Home Essentials is the new name for BT Basic, providing broadband and home phone services to benefit customers.
Two broadband packages are available with speeds of 36Mb and 67Mb, while customers who just want a landline can sign up for home phone only with unlimited minutes.
Eligibility criteria for BT Home Essentials are strict and customers must receive certain benefits to be eligible.
Eligibility for BT Home Essentials
BT Home Essentials is open to new or existing BT customers who qualify for one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Pension credit (guarantee credit)
- Income support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based or with contributory allowance lower than the income-based part)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
The person receiving an eligible benefit must be the named account holder on their BT Homes Essentials plan.
BT package options
Home Essentials Unlimited Fiber Essentials
- Cost: £15 per month (12 month contract)
- Speed: 36 MB on average
- Initial costs: Free
Home Essentials Unlimited Fiber
- Cost: £20 per month (12 month contract)
- Speed: 67 MB on average
- Initial costs: Free
Home Essentials – Calls Only
- Cost: £10 per month (12 month contract)
- Initial costs: Free
When a customer applies for BT Home Essentials, they will need to pass an eligibility check. This will include the type of personal information normally provided when applying for broadband, such as names and addresses.
However, applicants will also need to provide their date of birth and national insurance number so that their specific eligibility for Home Essentials can be verified.
A security deposit option is available for those with low credit scores.
Learn more about BT Home Essentials here.
Virgin Media Essential Broadband
Virgin Media Essential Broadband helps you get online for £15 a month with 15Mbps fiber broadband speed.
Virgin Media Essential broadband eligibility
This is a broadband plan only available if you are an existing Virgin Media customer and receive Universal Credit.
To qualify for this pack, Virgin Media requires the account owner to show proof of receiving Universal Credit before they can set it up.
To apply, simply complete an online application form and they will send you an email explaining how to complete the eligibility checks.
As soon as they pass, they’ll switch you, and you won’t have to pay any fees or additional charges to switch from your current Virgin Media services.
The monthly cost of £15 will not change
Virgin says it’ll keep you connected at £15 a month for as long as you’re eligible. This means the price of your Essential Broadband Package will not change while you receive Universal Credit payments.
Broadband plan only
The Essential Broadband Pack is a broadband only service, so if you are currently taking TV and/or home phone with Virgin, these services will be cancelled.
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30-day flexible contracts
Essential Broadband is a rolling 30-day contract, which means whenever you’re ready to return to your usual Virgin Media services, call them and they’ll sort it all out for you.
If you ever want to switch back to Broadband Essential, you can simply reapply in the same way.
Learn more about Virgin Media Essential Broadband here.
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