Ministers are urging all broadband providers to offer “social tariffs” allowing low-income households to receive discounted mobile and internet deals to ease the pressure of rising living costs.
A new service, which will go live this week and be run by the Department for Work and Pensions, will allow internet providers to verify, with customers’ permission, whether they are in receipt of a relevant benefit and therefore eligible for extra financial support.
The government says the scheme, which is already supported by Virgin Media O2, could in some cases save households hundreds of pounds a year.
The government’s cost of living business tsar, David Buttress, said he is committed to scaling up and promoting the concept of social tariffs.
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“Times are tough and families across the country are feeling the pinch, so we’re making it easier for companies to reduce phone and broadband bills for struggling families,” Mr Buttress said.
“Some of the biggest network operators have already committed to take advantage of this new scheme, and we want to see other providers follow their lead so that everyone eligible for a social tariff can access one.
“This is just one of the ways that we’re working with businesses to offer help through our Help for Households campaign, building on the comprehensive £37bn package of support already being provided by government.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said, “it is more important than ever that people get the financial support available to them”.
“I’d like to thank those providers leading the way in moving customers over to discount rates, and I encourage others to follow suit to help millions of households to cut bills,” she added.
Government figures show that while many providers already offer so-called “social tariffs”, the take-up rate is low, with just 1.2% of those eligible applying.
Currently, claimants have to prove their entitlement as often as every month through methods such as sending screenshots of their Universal Credit account to their broadband provider or by providing a letter from the Jobcentre.