According to a survey conducted by Citizens Advice, up to one million individuals have canceled their broadband subscriptions in the past year due to the high cost of living. The charity emphasized that these individuals could have benefited from more affordable social tariffs or special low-cost packages.
Ofcom, the watchdog, has warned that 4.3 million eligible people are missing out on these deals. The government has acknowledged its efforts to encourage the uptake of social tariffs by collaborating with Ofcom and the industry to introduce a variety of products to the market. These options, starting from £10 per month, are available in 99% of the UK.
To simplify the process for benefit claimants signing up to social tariffs, a broadband eligibility checker has been introduced, with major providers such as Sky and Virgin Media already participating. However, despite the take-up of social tariffs quadrupling since January last year, Ofcom found that the overall uptake remained low, at around 5% of those eligible.
Citizens Advice’s survey of 6,000 people revealed that those receiving universal credit were six times more likely to have stopped their broadband spending in the past 12 months compared to non-claimants. The charity expressed concern that the problem could worsen, as people claiming the benefit were four times more likely to be behind on their broadband bills.
Ofcom reported that one in three UK households faced affordability issues with their communication services and urged companies to do more to promote social tariffs. Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, called on the watchdog to hold firms accountable and improve the uptake of social tariffs, stating that people were being priced out of internet access at an alarming rate.