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Eligibility Change to Hit Low Cost BT Basic Phone Line Rental Service

Friday, October 26th, 2012 (1:22 pm) - Score 3,840

The low cost BT Basic service, which reduces the price of telephone line rental to the equivalent of £4.80 a month for those on state benefits (e.g. the unemployed), is changing its eligibility criteria in 2013 to reflect the government’s stricter policy. Oh and there’s a price rise.

At present a customer is deemed to be eligible for the BTBasic service, which also includes a tiny bonus of £4.50 to spend on calls every 3 months, if they’re claiming one of either Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance (Income related) or Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit).

But with effect from 2013 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are changing the benefits system, which according to BT means that “various Passported benefits will no longer apply and a number of means tested benefits will be withdrawn” (note: the changes do not affect those eligible via pensions credit). Now a new letter from BT to Ofcom sets out the operators planned adjustment.

BTs Statement

The new Universal Credit is intended to simplify the benefits system and so it covers a wide range of claimants, not all of whom are on the lowest incomes. In order to keep BT Basic, which is a subsidised scheme, aimed at the most vulnerable customers and in line with universal service, we are proposing that customers on Universal Credit with zero earnings will be eligible for BT Basic going forward.

We were keen to make sure that any changes to the scheme were simple to communicate, simple to administer and where possible avoided collection of personal income or earnings data. We believe that the zero earnings limit will meet these objectives.”

Naturally some BTBasic users might worry that this will result in a loss of their current service, although BT claims that it has “no plans at this stage to retrospectively check” or “remove” any existing customers who take the service. In reply Ofcom said that it was a “reasonable” move and supported the decision (Ofcoms letter).

It’s worth reminding readers that the price of BTBasic will increase by 15p to £4.95 a month from 5th January 2013, which isn’t as aggressive as their other pre-planned price hikes. At the same time it’s also worth remembering that broadband can still be added to a BTBasic line. Further details about the low cost service can be found below.

BT Basic Information Leaflet (PDF)
http://www.bt.com/includingyou/redesign2012/assets/downloads/BTBasic.pdf

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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