The best broadband deals and how to get a discount (2023)

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, over 5 million households cancelled their broadband last year according to a survey from Citizens Advice. The charity suggests that many of those struggling could have benefitted from cheaper social tariffs that offer basic broadband packages starting from as little as £12 per month.

To help customers on benefits receive access to the same opportunities online as others, a selection of providers are offering highly discounted deals, known as social tariffs.

READ MORE:Sky slashes £378 off popular TV product in one of biggest money-saving deals

Only a small number of broadband customers are eligible for these reduced-price packages but they could offer a vital lifeline as providers increase bills by as much as 15 per cent following rising costs and an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation.

Comparison site Uswitch recently found that two-thirds of financially vulnerable households are unaware that these low-income broadband tariffs exist.

That figure could represent as many as ten million homes that could be saving up to £234 a year, or nearly £20 per month, on a cheaper broadband contract.

What are social tariff broadband deals?

Social tariffs are a way to get broadband if you are receiving government benefits. These plans will be much cheaper than the standard monthly rate for the equivalent packages and they will not be affected by annual mid-contract price rises from providers.

Most offer the same speeds and quality as other similar deals and some include a dedicated home phone line to ensure that vulnerable and isolated customers always have access to the outside world.

Simply put, these low-cost deals offer a basic broadband provision at as much as half the price of the cheapest equivalent plan for eligible customers.

Who is eligible for a social tariff?

These deals are only available to a very small percentage of the population including those in receipt of certain government benefits.

While the exact details may vary slightly according to the provider, social tariffs are available to customers on Universal Credit, Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

Providers will expect to see proof of eligibility and will check with the DWP and other agencies, and all applications will be subject to a credit check.

What if I am not eligible for a social tariff?

Households who do not qualify to receive the cheapest broadband packages on a social tariff may still be able to save a few pounds here and there by swapping to a cheaper plan where possible.

In this roundup, we've also looked at the next lowest price option available with each provider and ways to help if you are struggling to pay your broadband bill.

Read on to see which providers offer low-cost internet services, and find out how you can check your eligibility for them.


The best broadband deals and how to get a discount (1)

Vodafone offers its £12 per month Essentials package to customers who are in receipt of the following:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Reduced Earnings Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Disability Allowance

For less than 40p a day, eligible customers can enjoy 38 Mbps download speeds, and the 12-month contract comes with no early termination fees.

Vodafone Essentials is available to new and existing customers, and anyone looking to sign up must complete the online form to begin the verification process.

For customers not eligible for the Essentials plan, the next cheapest plan available from Vodafone costs £23 per month for full-fibre broadband and offers average upload speeds of 35Mbps.

Vodafone customers who are struggling to pay their bills should speak to the customer service team, to help find a solution.

Virgin Media

The best broadband deals and how to get a discount (2)

The Essential broadband packages from Virgin Media start from £12.50 a month to help households on a low income get online for less with M15 or M50 Fibre Broadband.

To qualify for the cut-price plan, customers must be receiving at least one of the following:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-based Employment Support Allowance

The cheapest Virgin Essentials £12.50 a month plan includes 15Mbps Fibre Broadband, a Virgin Media WiFi Hub and 2Mbps average upload speeds. This plan only includes broadband connections, so customers looking for a landline to make phone calls to family and friends, may want to look elsewhere.

The plan runs on a 30-day rolling contract and there are no set-up costs.

New and existing Virgin Media customers can sign up here, to consent to an eligibility check in the first instance.

Essential Broadband Plus offers faster download speeds of up to 54Mbps for the increased cost of £20 per month, and for an additional one-off payment of £20, customers can upgrade to the Essentials with Stream to receive a Virgin Stream box.

For anyone not eligible for either of the Essentials packages, the next cheapest deals start from £17 per month and customers looking to reduce the costs of their bills should contact the customer services team.


The best broadband deals and how to get a discount (3)

BT Home Essentials starts from £15 per month and is available to customers on the following:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance.

The Home Essentials plan offers average speeds of 36Mbps and includes 700 minutes a month of talk time to all UK landlines and mobiles. For £20 a month, customers can upgrade to 67Mbps average download speed, with unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles (usually £34 per month).

Available on a 12-month contract, there are no early exit fees to be paid if your circumstances change and customers can undertake an instant eligibility check here.

The low-cost plan for families on benefits offers a saving of £11.99 on BT's standard Full Fibre Essential deal which usually costs £26.99.

BT customers who are struggling to meet their monthly payments should get in touch with the company, as soon as they can.


The best broadband deals and how to get a discount (4)

Sky's offering for low-income families is less comprehensive than some of its competitors and not as cheap either at £20 per month.

Sky Broadband Basics is only available to existing Sky Broadband customers who are in receipt of:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Pension Credit (PC)
  • Income-based Employment Support Allowance (I-ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (I-JSA)
  • Income Support (IS)

Customers must be named on the statement for the benefit and the contract runs for 18 months at a time.

While the deal may be helpful for some customers, it is worth bearing in mind that for £26 a month - just £6 more - Sky is offering a deal on their Superfast 80 broadband plan.

Eligible Sky customers who are struggling with their bills or would like to discuss switching to Broadband Basics should get in touch here.


The best broadband deals and how to get a discount (5)

As the sister company to broadcasting giant Sky, NOW is also offering a Basics plan that costs the same £20 per month.

It is only available to existing Now customers who are in receipt of any of the following:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Pension Credit (PC)
  • Income-based Employment Support Allowance (I-ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (I-JSA)
  • Income Support (IS)

Offering 36Mbps broadband speed, the plan also comes with pay-as-you-go landline calls, but at £20 per month, it is still slightly more expensive than other social tariffs out there for similar internet speeds.

For new customers not eligible for the social tariff, Now super fibre broadband starts from around £24 a month depending on the package you require.

Now customers can apply to switch to a cheaper tariff by getting in touch to start the eligibility check, here.

Save more money by combining TV and broadband deals

If you are not eligible for a social tariff, combing your broadband and entertainment packages could help to reduce your monthly bills a little bit further.

Customers who still want to enjoy access to Sky TV and Netflix for example, but also need to have ultrafast internet connections to work from home should consider a plan that offers both.

Sky is currently offering its cheapest-ever Sky Glass, Sky TV, Netflix and Broadband package at £43 a month. Find out more about it here.


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