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Cost of Living plans for broadband and mobile customers announced

Telecoms companies have agreed new commitments to help customers, following a government-led summit

New measures have been agreed by broadband and mobile providers to help support customers struggling to pay their bills, after the government consulted with the industry over rising prices.

Representatives from the telecoms market, including BT Group, Openreach, Virgin Media O2 and Sky, all pledged to offer increased support - effective immediately.

The move follows a Which? investigation earlier this month that showed how millions could be missing a £250 per year saving on broadband, as many providers fail to promote social tariffs.

Discover the best and worst broadband providers to see how yours fares in our regular survey.

What support is on offer from telecoms providers?

Effective immediately, telecoms providers have agreed to better support customers who may be struggling to pay their bills, including:

  • Allowing them to move to cheaper packages penalty free, or agreeing manageable payment plans
  • Continuing to protect the connectivity of customers known to be vulnerable
  • Taking steps to raise awareness of low cost products for those who claim Universal Credit
  • Mobile providers to consider more ways to help, including new tariffs and improving existing low-cost offers.

Cheaper deals for those on Universal Credit are now available across 99% of the UK, but the government says this latest intervention means anyone struggling to pay broadband or mobile bills should expect support if they ask for it.

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Why more needs to be done to help consumers

In February 2022, telecoms regulator Ofcom reported that just 55,000 out of 4.2 million eligible households had signed up to social tariffs, which can offer significant savings on monthly broadband bills. It called on providers to raise awareness of these social tariffs, as well as ensuring they are transparent and easy to sign up for. It also encouraged providers who do not offer these discounted tariffs to provide them.

However, a Which? investigation found that most providers were not advertising availability of social tariffs, or asking whether new customers received benefits such as Universal Credit and thus might be eligible. 

The news that providers have agreed to improve support for customers should hopefully ensure that those who need help the most, will get it. 

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:

'It is good news that providers are taking action to help the most financially vulnerable through the cost of living crisis. We know from our research that millions could be missing out on significant savings because not enough has been done to proactively reach out to those that are eligible for social tariffs.

'The success of these initiatives will be judged by whether the right support is getting to the people who need it the most, so we need to see the government and providers continuing to work together to get these new measures up and running as soon as possible.'

What to do if you're struggling to pay broadband or mobile bills

  • Anyone who can no longer afford to pay their telecoms bills should contact their provider to see how they can help. 
  • Those eligible for social tariffs could look to switch to one – you should be able to do this without facing early exit charges from your current provider. See below for a full list of social tariffs, and links to provider websites to find out more.
  • Consider other ways to save on your bills. We've created detailed guides on how to save on your broadband bill, and how to save on your mobile bill.
  • Some providers may offer extra incentives that can save you money elsewhere. Read our guide on seven mobile provider perks that can save you money.
  • If you're travelling abroad this summer, make sure you don't get hit by unwanted roaming bills. Read our guide on five ways to save on mobile roaming costs.

Full list of broadband social tariffs

ProductPrice per monthAverage speedEligibilityAvailability
BT Home Essentials£1536MbpsVarious benefits (in and out of work)Widely available
BT Home Essentials 2£2067MbpsVarious benefits (in and out of work)Widely available
Now Broadband Basics£2036MbpsUniversal Credit or Pension CreditWidely available
Sky Broadband Basics£2036MbpsUniversal Credit or Pension CreditWidely available
Virgin Media Essential Broadband£1515MbpsUniversal CreditWidely available
Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50£1550MbpsVarious benefits (in and out of work)Selected towns and cities
G.Network Essential Fibre Broadband£1550MbpsVarious benefits (in and out of work)Regional (London)

Ease the squeeze on your household bills with our latest cost of living advice and tips.