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The UK’s main broadband and mobile companies have agreed to improve low-cost offers to help customers stay connected as the cost of living soars.
The top executives of BT Group, Openreach, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, Three, TalkTalk and Sky agreed a plan to help customers struggling to pay bills, including moves to allow switching to cheaper deals without paying a penalty.
The companies agreed a five-point plan of formal commitments to support customers struggling with soaring inflation, energy costs and tax rises.
The commitments, which take effect immediately, include allowing customers struggling with bills to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty. Early termination charges can spiral to hundreds of pounds if multiple telecoms services are cancelled.
Other industry-wide commitments include agreeing to treat those struggling with bills with “compassion and understanding” and ensuring the most vulnerable do not get cut off.
Other measures include allowing those struggling with bills to move on to manageable repayment plans, and launching and promoting more social tariffs across the industry.
While social tariffs, or discounted deals, are already available to customers who receive certain government benefits, anyone struggling to pay their mobile or broadband bill can now “expect support from their provider if they ask for it,” according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:
“Families across the country face increased anxiety about keeping up with bills, so today I agreed with broadband and mobile industry bosses what more can be done to support people during this difficult time.
“I’m pleased to report the industry is listening and has signed up to new commitments offering customers struggling with the cost of living help to stay connected. Those who need support should contact their supplier to see what is available.”
Currently there are are a range of broadband social tariffs available from many tech companies but Vodafone’s VOXI is the only social tariff available for mobile phone plans.
VOXI For Now tariff will give unlimited 5G data, calls and texts for just £10 a month to anyone receiving benefits.
Broadband Social Tariffs
Some providers offer social tariffs which are only available to customers who receive certain government benefits, as set out in the table below.