The Department for Work and Pensions is to run a new service that will allow providers of broadband to verify whether customers are receiving relevant benefits, making them eligible for extra financial support, such as reduced broadband bills.
The verification service will require the customer’s permission; however, it would allow them to access ‘social tariffs.’ The government has called on all broadband providers to offer and promote social tariffs that will help those on Universal Credit and other benefits to access broadband and mobile phone deals.
These tariffs could save over a hundred pounds per year in some cases, with one provider that is already on board allowing early termination fees to be waived as customers move from other tariffs to the ones that will allow them to reduce their expenditure when already on low income.
David Buttress, the Government’s Cost of Living Business Tsar, has committed to working alongside the industry to improve and promote social tariffs that already exist, as well as encouraging the providers that don’t have them, to bring them in. Buttress said:
“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.
“Some of the biggest network operators have already committed to 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 £37 billion package of support already being provided by Government.”
Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added:
“It’s more important than ever that people get the financial support available to them, including cheaper broadband for benefit claimants, and this change makes these social tariffs even easier to access.
“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.”
Customer’s consent must be gained before the internet service providers can speak to the Department for Work and Pensions about their eligibility for the schemes, whilst the Department will provide as little information as possible, sharing nothing other than the confirmation that the claimant is eligible for the benefit. This ensures the safety of the claimant’s data.
Digital Secretary, Nadine Dorries said:
“Social Tariffs are vital for families struggling with bills, keeping them connected even in tough times.
“Our discussions with broadband companies led to the range of social tariffs on the market today and we’ve secured a raft of new cost-of-living commitments from them to ensure help is available for anyone that needs it.
“I urge anyone concerned about falling behind on payments to contact their supplier to see what support is available.”