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Virgin Media UK Launch Cheap 15Mbps Broadband for Universal Credit Users

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020 (8:08 am) - Score 12,172
Hands holding british pound coin and small money pouch

Cable broadband ISP Virgin Media UK is to launch a budget 15Mbps internet access package that costs just £15 per month, which doesn’t have a fixed-term contract length but is only available to customers who are receiving Universal Credit. Furthermore, there will be no price changes while benefit payments are being received.

The new Essential Broadband plan, which is expected to launch sometime this “autumn“, operates off a short 30 day rolling monthly contract and if the customer ever stops receiving Universal Credit then they will be able to continue taking the service for £23 per month (or you can upgrade to a different plan).

NOTE: The latest official figures show that there were 5.6 million people on Universal Credit at 9th July 2020 (up 2% from June 2020).

The COVID-19 crisis has been extremely hard on the country in 2020 and many more job losses are expected in the future. At the same time broadband ISPs have been putting in place various measures to provide as much support as reasonably possible for those most in need (vulnerable customers) and this seems to the latest development.

The new plan will initially be made available to existing Virgin Media customers, who will be able to fall back on it and cut their bills if they find themselves with no option but to take out Universal Credit (you will of course be required to provide proof of that status).

Jeff Dodds, COO of Virgin Media, said:

“We know that these are tough times and that there are many people finding it more difficult to make ends meet and facing financial uncertainty. At the same time, the role of broadband in helping people to stay connected has never been clearer. Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family, finding advice and support or searching for jobs and working remotely – broadband underpins it all.

With this all in mind, we wanted to make sure that those customers receiving benefit payments were able to access reliable, hassle-free connectivity with enough speed to carry out essential online activities.

Building on the industry-leading initiatives we’ve already launched for vulnerable customers, we’ll continue to work tirelessly to keep the country connected and support our customers in whatever way we can.”

Matt Warman, UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:

“Having affordable access to the internet can improve people’s quality of life, connecting them with friends and family and giving them a tool to build a brighter future. That is why the government brokered major deals with broadband companies to support those struggling to pay bills right now.

I want to see continued efforts to protect consumers beyond the pandemic and welcome Virgin Media offering a permanent package giving vulnerable and low-income families the flexibility to continue to benefit from reliable connectivity.”

Sadly, the announcement makes no mention of what happens to those who currently have a bundle with phone and don’t wish to lose their voice line in the process of downgrading. Likewise, there’s no mention of usage allowance (we assume it’s unlimited) or upload speeds, among other things, although we are checking and will report back soon.

Nevertheless, the new package should complement some of Virgin Media’s other recent changes, such as last year’s introduction of annual package reviews, as well as more flexible bill management through a specialist team and bespoke engineer visits.

In 2016, the provider also introduced its Talk Protected phone-only plan. This gave those customers over the age of 65 or those with additional accessibility needs a fixed-price home phone plan, with inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and mobiles alongside other benefits.

The operator has also taken action during the COVID-19 crisis to give customers the connectivity, data, entertainment and flexibility needed. This included providing 10GB of mobile data at no extra cost; introducing more kids and entertainment programming; removing data caps on any broadband plans that still had them, and giving customers more flexibility over their services such as the ability to temporarily pause sports subscriptions when live events were suspended.

Otherwise the new plan appears to be similar to BT’s Basic + Broadband plan, which costs just £10.07 per month for an unlimited 10Mbps (average speed) connection. But you also get a UK call allowance of £1.50, plus free weekend calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers (lasting up to 60 minutes) and there’s a monthly £10 price cap for home phones and mobiles. As before, this is only available to those on benefits.

UPDATE 9:29am

We spoke to VM and can confirm that the package comes with an uncapped data usage allowance and a 2Mbps upload speed. We also clarified that this is indeed a broadband-only service, which means that if an existing customer has a phone then they will not be able to retain that in the downgrade (“this will be clearly stated to them before they change their plan,” said the operator). A customer can still take a Virgin Mobile plan which will be billed separately, but there are cheaper operators for that.

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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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44 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    Useless offering when you can expect twice as much speed over 4g for a few pounds more a month.

    Virgin needs to focus on delivering far better value for money (and billing people correctly) on its existing services, rather than trying to make it look like they care with pointless stuff like this. (we already know they don’t!)

    1. James™ says:

      Some people on universal credit can’t afford much more, at least with this they can get access to internet and if they have kids then they will be able to do school work from home.

      I welcome this.

    2. Arthur says:

      Hi I totally agree I lost my job in March contacted virgin they said if you don’t pay your bill we will cut you off so much for carrying a our customers I’m on universal credit still paying normall price given virgin 30 days notice

  2. Inklin says:

    The £23 for 15Mb part jumps out at me more than the policy, what are these guys smoking lately? Also, Universal credit can be pretty erratic as a matter of government policy too, so I guess people will be bouncing between £15 and £23 and VM will have a whole other layer of admin dealing with people on these plans.

    It wasn’t that long ago when you could get 50Mb for £26 either.

    1. Chris says:

      £23 for 15mbs is terrible, I’m getting 200mbs (most of the time when I check and after kicking the modem) for £27 (cancelled and they kept pestering me to stay (~30 missed calls) and eventually came with a too good to turn down price)

    2. joe says:

      @Chris and what use is 27£ for someone on UC. You are missing the point….

    3. Ben says:

      It’s more like a standard tariff like if you didn’t renew your gas/electric contract. The idea’s that once you’re off UC you’d be able to ring up and upgrade to one of the better, faster packages.

    4. Chris says:


      Those on UC will pay £15 which is great, could possibly be cheaper. It’s just that once off UC the charge goes up to £23 which is not much less than I’m paying for far faster.

      That’s the point I’m making.

    5. Coco says:

      £23 for 15Mb is absolute madness – I pay £25/m for 80/20!

    6. cdh1981 says:

      “Coco says:
      £23 for 15Mb is absolute madness – I pay £25/m for 80/20!”

      Even more madness if you’re in a FTTP area with Vodafone, I’m paying £28/month for 100/100 symmetric!

    7. maurice adams says:

      I like to no about the brordband I am on uv credit

    8. Simi says:

      I am on UC and I have the £79 everything bundle. It’s cheaper for me to combine everything in. It’s not always about being on UC it’s how you manage it.

      And yes I work also.

  3. gc1 says:

    BT got rid of the 15GB monthly usage limit on BT Basic + Broadband several months ago and said the change was permanent. I can’t see the Virgin product being competitive as it doesn’t include the voice line. Maybe some people will be very far from a BT exchange and the 15Mbps virgin speed would be more attractive than a very slow ADSL BT connection.

    1. Dazza Dazza says:

      the “limit”, i remember talking with their accessibility team about the “limit” i think when i said dont worry after i explained i had been through with limits for years since o2/sky started pestering me like hey did you know youve DL over 1TB this month, “dont worry we MAY send you a letter”, i thought 30 day contract try it, 5 years later they remove said “limit” i am yet to have EVER had more than a log in notification, not even an email, 😉

    2. A_Builder says:

      Well if BT’s backbone and peering is rearchitected to cope with 1G FTTP connections sprouting up round the place it is a bit of a waste of time worrying about how much people will pull down a 10/1(?) connection.

      Policing the limits would probably costs more than the bandwidth costs of the very few who will abuse it.

  4. kyle says:

    lol how would they know that you’re even getting UC?

    dumb idea.

    1. Qxc says:

      Quite literally says you need to verify it. So you’d be given some documentation from the government to confirm you’re on Benefits.

  5. CarlT says:

    Good move. A few cable operators around the world offer similar dedicated packages for the disadvantaged.

  6. Suspicious says:

    Don’t trust virgin network ,it will be sold in near future.

  7. Dazza says:

    ive had bt basic for over 10 years, have had my line lost and had 8 month install but still advocate its best, (lost line fully compensated and robust investigation, 8 month install my LA flats are ’60s prefab), payed 5 years sky and o2 less than £5 each , last 5 years £30 per quarter, bt wifi included free, hard work but imho unbeatable

  8. bob says:

    it should include a phone line so it helps them to find a job.

    1. Eddie says:

      You can buy a mobile phone at carphone warehouse for £12.99 and it comes with £10 credit. The line rental would be that a month.

      There’s no need for a landline any more, i haven’t had one in over 10 years.

  9. k says:

    what about people still on legacy benefits i.e JSA, ESA etc…
    do they qualify?

    1. JSA Rools says:


  10. M says:

    I don’t get why this can’t be offered to everyone, there are people on the breadline who can actually be bothered to go to work.

    1. 125us says:

      People on low incomes will be on universal credit. Most benefit recipients in the UK are actually in work, an awful lot of jobs don’t pay enough to keep food in the larder and a roof over your head.

  11. m says:

    yo, im on universal credit and rent a room in a house with three others and i contribute £15pcm and we have the £60 virgin gigabit. so, WTF virgin media.

    1. Pete says:

      then you are getting too much money!

  12. Kim says:

    No joke get yourselves smarty 20 pounds no contract and a cheap 4g router or mifi these virgin media clowns will double your prices.

    1. Mark says:

      Smarty? Sure if you enjoy ‘Dial-Up’ speeds. The Three network is oversubscribed! Take a look in the ‘Mobile Broadband’ section over at ThinkBroadband, can’t miss it, thousands of posts!

  13. paul says:

    Are they for real 15 meg for 15 pounds just use your mobile with hotspot enabled if your plan has 100gb or unlimited data plan.
    I wouldn’t touch virgin media even this was offered to me for free.

    1. Mark says:

      How is someone going to pass a credit check to get one of these plans exactly? Don’t even think about mentioning Smarty either, a carrier pigeon would be faster!

  14. Hollie marsden says:

    15 mps they would only be kicking out 7mps on a good day mo good for familys 2ity kids totally rubbish u can get 50mps with bt for £25

  15. Mike says:

    So VM customers now subsidise chavs?

    1. Simi says:

      Many chavs pay full price and are on UC

      So your point is?

  16. JP says:

    Ita clear to see a lot of folks here don’t understand who this is aimed at and why.

    Trying to compare a home broadband connection to using mobiles is ridiculous.

    At the end of the day, mobiles can be reverted to pay as you go pretty cheap these days and don’t need credit for long periods ro receive calls.

    I guess Virgin has also brought this option up yo save losing customers in the current climate and possibly gain some in the long run with objective to get folks moved onto better value contracts.

    Also everyone is comparing prices to offers on contracts and renewal contracts.

    £15 a month is pretty good and could help quite a bit.

  17. James™ says:

    I think people need to be more respectful. £15 is a lot of money to someone who doesn’t have any.

    Some people don’t have mobile contracts with unlimited data. They more likely have a cheaper possibly second hand phone on pay as you go.

  18. Bob says:

    Great, more discounts for the job shy benefit cheating single mums and junkies. They get enough discounts.
    Reduced council tax, rent paid (housing benefit), gas / electric / water (capped bills), free prescriptions, energy efficiency grants, free school meals, cold weather payments, free school bus travel, healthy start food vouchers, money from the flexible support fund, to name a few.
    What about the working poor. Those of us who choose to work a 40 hour week and have to pay for everything.
    If I didn’t have the expense of most of the above and still got free money I would be laughing, however I choose not to go to my Doctor and claim I had a pseudo mental health problem.
    The system is broken. If you don’t work and / or don’t want to work then you get it all free or heavily discounted.
    I do my best to get good deals but it’s a struggle. I live a simple life because I choose to work and have a mortgage, a home I can call home, and watch my pennies.

    1. 125us says:

      If you genuinely were working poor Bob (or is it Mike) you’d be entitled to many of the things you’re so jealous about. The fact that you have a mortgage suggests you me that you’re not actually in that category.

      As I’m sure you know, most people in receipt of the benefits you despise are in full time work. Many jobs don’t pay enough to pay the bills. Your anger should be directed at the government that uses the benefit system to subsidise low paying employers.

    2. CarlT says:

      Get a higher paying job?

      Indeed. Not that easy. Much as it isn’t for many on UC, especially right now.

    3. Frank says:


      If you feel that bad then go to Dover and contest the freebies the Immigrants get – OAP’s get made homeless as the care home has run out of money, but mr immigrant gets all the above and a 4 star hotel until the house is ready. It’s true they have to find them a home when the get off the boat.

      I sold my house last year and moved into a 41foot quad slide RV and I now live in the sun all year round – so I pity you for having a Mortgage – in my eyes that make you poor. Paying for a house that is not even yours UNTIL you pay the last payment.

    4. Andrew Bill Marley says:

      Work shy? You idiot Bob, im disabled and not on universal credit but even though recieving lowe end of pip im on jobseekers which is less than UC and ive not been offered a job interview in 15 years and with no fault of my own, so think on before calling me workshy, because ive still stayed working for nothing all that time by volunteering and several vol jobs at any given time too.

  19. Frank says:

    Anyway this is NOT available until the end of November -a friend who works there told me today. (in fact he didn’t even know about it – seems VM have not had the memo yet)

  20. Andrew Bill Marley says:

    What about a cheap internet service for those of us on PiP payment, dont we deserve a cheaper rate before those on universal benefits alone

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