Millions on Universal Credit can get cheaper broadband deals

Virgin Media has widened the list of those eligible to sign up for its social tariffs to include claimants of Universal Credit and Pension Credit, as well as those on some legacy benefits. The service operates the same as a normal package but at a lower price.

Virgin Media offers two broadband social tariffs, including Essential Broadband, with speed of 15Mb for £12.50 a month and Essential Broadband Plus, with speeds of 54Mb for £20 a month.

The company can automatically check with the DWP to verify a person is in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits with no need for the customer to provide evidence.

Previously only claimants of Universal Credit could access Virgin’s social tariffs offering but now the list has been widened to people on these benefits:

  • Income-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit.

Many other major providers offer social tariffs, including EE and Vodafone, Sky and NOW.

Vodafone Essentials Broadband offers 38Mb for £12 a month, which is more than double the speed of Virgin Media’s Essential Broadband, for 50p less.

A full list of the providers that offer social tariffs is available on the Ofcom website.

Broadband and mobile bills are set to increase in April as many providers increase their charges in line with inflation plus an additional amount.

Ofcom rules state providers must inform their customers of any changes to prices or their contract.

Some examples of other social tariffs available on the market include:

  • Air Broadband Air Support – £20 a month – Various benefits (in and out of work)
  • BT Home Essentials – £15 a month – Various benefits (in and out of work)
  • BT Home Essentials 2 – £20 a month – Various benefits (in and out of work)
  • Community Fibre Essential – £12.50 a month – Open to all
  • Country Connect Social Tariff – £15 a month – Various benefits (in and out of work)
  • EE Basics – £12 a month – Various benefits (in and out of work)
  • NOW Broadband Basics – £20 a month – Universal Credit or Pension Credit
  • Sky Broadband Basics – £20 a month – Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

Kate Anderson, a personal finance expert at, told Britons should haggle with their provider to make sure they are getting the best deal.

She explained: “If you are no longer working from home, or have fewer family members living with you, you may not need the speeds you have done in the past.

“Once you have done that, make sure to compare broadband deals. Don’t be afraid to take the best one to your existing provider and see if they will give you a cheaper deal. You could make significant savings on your monthly payments.”

She also warned people should be wary of the sort of deal they are signing up for. The consumer expert said: “When it comes to mobile phone deals, check you’re not sleepwalking into a contract for data you won’t use.

“It may be cheaper to buy the phone outright and get a Sim-only deal. Even if you don’t want a new handset, it’s worth checking with your provider if you can get a better deal based on your data usage.

“For example, giffgaff will actively tell you if you’re not using your data allowance and suggest a cheaper deal.

“Unlimited data with giffgaff is £35, but you may be fine with 5GB at £8 a month.”

Many benefit payments are increasing by 10.1 percent in April, including Universal Credit and Pension Credit.

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