One million Britons lose broadband access during cost of living crisis
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One million people in the UK had their broadband disconnected in the last year because they couldn’t afford it, a survey has found.
According to Citizens Advice, people on Universal Credit were more than six times as likely to have disconnected compared to people not claiming. While claimants are eligible for discounted broadband social tariffs, there are still big gaps around awareness and access with uptake only around 5 per cent.
The charity fears the problem could get worse. Where people claiming Universal Credit are still paying for broadband, they are more than four times more likely to be behind on broadband bills than those who aren’t claiming.
The latest figures from Ofcom show 95 per cent of the 4.3 million eligible households are missing out on saving £200 on broadband costs each year, amounting to around £824m of support going unclaimed.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People are being priced out of internet access at a worrying rate. Social tariffs should be the industry’s safety net, but firms’ current approach to providing and promoting them clearly isn’t working. The people losing out as a result are the most likely to disconnect.
“The internet is now an essential part of our lives - vital to managing bills, accessing benefits and staying in touch with loved ones. As providers continue to drag their feet in making social tariffs a success, it’s clear that Ofcom needs to hold firms’ feet to the fire.”
Citizens Advice used data from an online survey of 6,000 UK adults plus a boost of 243 respondents in receipt of Universal Credit to make a total of 1,215 respondents in receipt of Universal Credit.
A government spokeswoman said: “The government has worked with Ofcom and the industry to introduce a range of high-quality, low-cost broadband social tariffs into the market. Available in 99 per cent of the UK, these offers start from £10 per month and are currently available from 19 providers.
“As well as this, our broadband eligibility checker simplifies the verification process and improves access to social tariffs for benefit claimants, with major providers Sky and Virgin Media already signed up and others encouraged to follow suit.
“In addition, Jobcentre staff regularly signpost claimants to relevant information on social tariffs and claimants can access computers for their work search at their local Jobcentre.”
Last week, the Local Government Association said that poorer households are being left behind in the ‘broadband slow lane’ despite relying more heavily on the internet at a time of rising prices than higher income households.
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