The most vulnerable households could reduce their annual bills by more than £ 300 by switching to social rates, but many broadband providers have been accused of not announcing such offers.
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Its broadband providers do not keep millions of distressed families up to date with cheaper social rates that could save them hundreds of pounds.
Consumer Driver Which? claims that the most vulnerable households could reduce their annual bills by more than £ 300 by switching to lower rates, but are unaware of the savings as social rates are not being widely reported by providers.
According to their research, eligible Hyperoptics customers could save up to £ 344.16 per year by switching to the company’s cheapest social rate, while Virgin Media customers could save up to £ 321.60 and BT customers they could save up to £ 284.52.
Eligible for social rates include households with universal credit, housing benefit, income support, and income-based job search allowance.
Which one? asks broadband providers to be more advanced and clearly promote discounted offers for those who need them most.
It comes when he found that the industry was lacking despite the demands of the Ofcom regulator for better promotion of special offers and clear information on how to register.
According to Ofcom figures, only 55,000 of the estimated 4.2 million eligible households have social rates.
Having trouble signing up for a social rate? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Which one? The investigation found that despite February calls to companies to improve their game, only one of seven proven providers had mentioned social rates on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts in May.
Of BT, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM, NOW Broadband, Sky and Virgin Media only KCOM had two tweets and a post on Facebook about discounted rates.
Which one? He said: “Four months after Ofcom’s warning, broadband providers need to improve their game and do a better job of promoting social rates to their customers, even on their social media accounts and through other channels.
“Given that telecommunications services are essential, providers should make sure to support their customers during the cost of living crisis, especially those who are financially vulnerable, so that they can stay connected and receive discounts. be eligible “.
The study found that, on average, those who switch to a social rate could save £ 250.32 a year, or £ 20.86 a month.
Rocio Concha, which one? “It’s unacceptable for broadband providers to do more to make customers aware of social tariffs, meaning that millions of households who may be struggling to make ends meet could say losing hundreds of pounds of savings.
“During a cost-of-living crisis, broadband providers need to support the most economically vulnerable by clearly promoting discounted deals and making it easier for eligible customers to switch to social rates.”
What did broadband providers respond to in response to the investigation?
Charles Davies, CEO of Hyperoptic, said: “Hyperoptic is committed to ensuring that customers who are eligible for their social rate know this so that they can benefit from reduced rates and access vital broadband services at the same speeds. than our standard packages.
“Your social rates are clearly advertised on your website and you are working proactively with local authorities, housing associations and digital inclusion partners to ensure that your social rate is communicated effectively through brochures to size and targeted marketing.
“This targeted approach is key to making sure that people who benefit most from the rate are aware of it, especially those whose circumstances may prevent them from seeing information online.
“That said, we’re always ready to improve the way we reach people, so we’re increasing what we post about Fair Fiber on our social media channels.”
BT said: “We are the only provider that invests in an instant eligibility check immediately with DWP. We discuss Home Essentials with customers during conversations, whether online, over the phone or in-store, so we can check real-time requirements.
“We are committed to supporting clients who are concerned about their finances and need additional help. We seek to understand the needs of our clients and provide Home Essentials to eligible clients who are having financial difficulties.
“We urge anyone who meets the requirements for our social price rate to contact us, either by phone, online or at one of our stores.”
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “As one of the first UK providers to launch an affordable social rate for those facing financial hardship, we are committed to supporting all of our customers and are actively promoting our Essential Broadband package that has been included in over 100 news articles in May alone.
“The adoption of our social tariffs has increased significantly year after year, and we will continue to work with the government and industry stakeholders to take advantage of the support available to lower-income households.”
G.Network said: “We know the cost of living is on the minds of Londoners right now. That’s why we’re proud to launch Essential Fiber earlier this year, and we’ve been working hard ever since promote the rate among those who can benefit.
“We recognize that more can always be done to raise awareness about social tariffs and we will continue to do our part.”
Tim Shaw, CEO of KCOM, said: “With so many people struggling with the cost of living right now, we are committed to helping our clients stay in control of their home budgets.
“That’s why we’ve made our Flex social rate cheaper and much easier to order online with the latest open banking technology.
“By reducing the price of our tariff, we are also strengthening our commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to reliable, high-quality broadband and the things that matter most to them.”
Sky and NOW Broadband declined to comment.