BT has launched a ‘social tariff’ of £ 15 per month, broadband and telephone aimed directly at people on benefit or low income and allowing eligible customers to cut their internet bills in half.
About 4.6 million households benefiting from universal credit and a range of other means-tested benefits will be eligible for BT Home Essentials Package which offers faster fiber broadband, plus 700 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles for the monthly rate.
Launched amid claims that low-income people are being excluded from the digital world – especially children from poorer households who have struggled to stay connected while being homeschooled during the pandemic – the new tariff costs less half the price of the cheapest equivalent package currently offered by BT or most of its competitors.
To benefit from the special tariff, households must receive one of the following benefits: universal credit, jobseeker’s allowance, income assistance, or employment and support allowance, or the guarantee credit element of the pension credit.
BT says existing customers who qualify for the deal can switch immediately without a prepayment charge.
Applicants will need their National Insurance Number and will need to complete an online form indicating the benefits they are receiving. Most approvals take 24 hours, according to BT.
Those who qualify will receive the Home Essentials offer for one year, even if you no longer receive the benefits. Those with a low credit score may have to pay a down payment. All customers face a router delivery charge of £ 9.99.
Customers of other telephony and broadband providers who wish to switch providers will need to check their existing contract and may have to pay an early termination fee. Customers will need to weigh these costs against the potential savings.
Marc Allera, Managing Director of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fiber plan, as fast and reliable connectivity to access vital online services – and stay in touch with your loved ones – is more important than ever.
BT is hoping that most of the people who switch to the deal will do so online, although customers can call. He said he had worked hard to train his 12,000 contact center employees “so they can better support customers who might need a little more help making the switch.”
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman welcomed the initiative and said he hoped other providers would make their own similar deals. “We have worked with internet providers to bring affordable broadband rates to those with bill issues to help the UK rebuild itself smarter after the pandemic,” he said . “I hope to see others take similar action soon.”