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ISP BT to Launch Cheap New UK Fibre Broadband Social Tariff

Monday, May 3rd, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 4,776
BT Home Essentials

BT has today announced their intention to launch a new social tariff called “Home Essentials” for UK people on Universal Credit (and other means-tested benefits), which will give eligible customers a 36Mbps “fibre broadband” (FTTC / FTTP) service and 700 minutes of included phone calls for just £15 per month.

The new package, which could potentially be taken by as many as 4.6 million UK households (availability), is roughly half the price of a standard package on BT’s service with similar features. We should add that this appears intended to replace BT’s existing “Basic” social tariff (we’re checking) for new or upgrading customers.

NOTE: BT Basic costs £10.07 a month for an unlimited 10Mbps connection (or £5.16 if you just want a phone line), which includes a UK call allowance of £1.50 and free weekend calls to 0845 / 0870 numbers. Plus there’s a monthly £10 price cap on calls.

In addition, those who want something faster can also opt for average speeds of 67Mbps and unlimited calls via the new same social tariff, but this does push the price to £20 per month. Under the current plan BT hopes to make this new package available in June 2021.

The operator’s new social tariff is similar to Virgin Media’s rival £15 per month “Essential Broadband” plan (here), although that only offers download speeds of 15Mbps (2Mbps upload), as well as unlimited data usage and a 30-day rolling contract.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said:

“Fast, reliable connectivity has never been as important as it is today, with millions of people relying upon our networks to get back on their feet after the pandemic.

We want to help as many people as we can, which is why at the end of June we’ll be launching BT Home Essentials, increasing the eligibility of our social tariff to include all customers on Universal Credit. BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fibre package, helping a potential four million households on low income save on bills and stay connected to vital online services.”

Matt Warman, UK Digital Infrastructure Minister, said:

“In today’s digital world, everyone should be able to access fast, reliable and affordable internet, so I’m thrilled that BT is the latest provider to launch new deals for low income households.

We have been working with internet providers to offer affordable broadband tariffs for those struggling with bills to help the UK build back fairer from the pandemic. I hope to see others taking similar action soon.”

The announcement follows a few short months after a number of MPs called on Ofcom to introduce a regulated social tariff (here), which could potentially require all broadband ISPs to offer a cut-price service to those on benefits. At that point the regulator had already indicated that they were considering the introduction of such a tariff and have similarly been encouraging providers to make a greater effort.

Since then Hyperoptic has joined BT and Virgin Media by launching a social style broadband tariff called the ‘Fair Fibre Plan‘ (here), which costs from £15 per month for 50Mbps – faster options exist. Meanwhile, KCOM has their “Flex” service in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, but that isn’t quite as attractive as the others.

Sadly, BT’s press release was somewhat light on detail, and so we asked them a few additional questions (see below).

1. Does Home Essentials replace BT Basic?

Answer: BT Home Essentials will replace BT Basic for new or upgrading customers, offering the latest Fibre broadband technology. Eligibility is going to be extended to everyone on Universal Credit (UC). At present BT Basic is only available for people on UC who receive zero income. The extended eligibility means people on UC who also earn money can benefit.

2. What upload speeds can those on these package(s) expect?

Answer: Upload speed for the £15 plan is approx. 10Mbs, and 20Mbs for the £20 plan [these are the FTTC/P maximums rather than averages].

3. Is it an unlimited data allowance or capped?

Answer: No caps.

4. Is there a contract term involved?

Answer: No minimum term. Customers can choose to be billed quarterly or monthly.

5. Will Home Essentials customers receive a bundled router?

Answer: Yes. Included in the price.

6. What happens if somebody with Home Essentials stops taking universal credit?

Answer: The response we were given on this one is a bit vague. “Once on BT Home Essentials [we] will check the customer’s eligibility every twelve months. There’s no minimum term. BT has access to check which customers are receiving specific benefits and if the customer is no longer eligible we will work with them to find a plan that best suits their needs.”

Leave a Comment
64 Responses
  1. CarlT says:

    Very good.

  2. john says:

    will it be available to esa income based support group customer?

  3. Mike says:

    Subsidised by other customers?

    1. A_Builder says:

      It is more about gaining and keeping customers.

      At some point, most recipients, come off benefits and will then become profitable customers.

      BT have to do this as everyone else does: otherwise they will bleed customers.

    2. David says:

      Well if you don’t want to assist others in need move to another provider. However, the article does state that BT is not doing this out of the goodness of its heart but in response to other companies providing social packages. So try and move elsewhere to find a company whose “customers will not be subsidising” the deal.

    3. Meadmodj says:

      This may be simply a timely review of BT Basic but may also be a result of the private members Internet Access Bill presented by Darren Jones and supported by other MPs such as my conservative one on a broader social tariff.

      Part my representation to them was that there should be consistent criteria and they should offered by all ISPs. The reason being that those who find their income reduced or restricted should not also have any cost or ecological cost of changing equipment or their connection. In addition there are increasing percentage of properties where OR or the large ISPs are not simply not present. I also suggested that it should be paid by vouchers from the benefits budget to protect the smaller ISPs who could be disproportionally hit.

      Although we on all on here seek higher speeds and resilience, expecting to pay more for the privilege, the entry level costs of fixed broadband are increasing for those on restricted incomes.

    4. Ivor says:

      I suspect it has rather less to do with MP or Ofcom sabrerattling, or some idea of competitive pressure (BT has offered a cheaper option for a lot longer than anyone else, and I can’t imagine they make much if any money off of it).

      They no longer sell ADSL to people who can get FTTC/P, as they are looking to close down copper and ADSL where possible, so it makes sense to uplift this product to something that can be sold in such areas

    5. Nick Roberts says:

      So, apparently, what should be done by the public welfare system on the input side is now to be done by a private company as an output.

      That’s triple bubble for the higher rate tax avoiders, . . . you get the BT Customer base to pay for it (And higher rate taxpayers are unlikely to be BT Residential Customers), its flat-rated to BT Customers (So even if higher rate taxpayers have got a BT account they don’t pay their full wack), the board-room benefits from the increased customer base, turnover and perhaps improved share price, as do the arbitrage boys in the city , and no price economies are available to the UC customer from the use of Government bulk purchase.

      How bl**dy derelict can Public Welfare Policy get ?

  4. WibbledOff says:

    This is just another example of making sure that the unemployed stay unemployed and not giving them any incentive to get out of poverty.

    Example: My next door neighbour lost his job last year, now he has his mortgage payments paid for (interest only). Been given free laptops and mobile phones for him and his kids, most of the council tax paid for. He now says that there is no point in working anymore and by the time he gets to retirement age, he will just sell the house he’s got for free to pay for retirement. When is this going to end?

    1. Meadmodj says:

      There will always be individuals that abuse the system but our benefits are now more structured towards working. If they are paying his mortgage as its cheaper than repossession/rehousing then for now its probably the best approach. Presumably the capital will still need to be paid.

      The issue here is minimum access to broadband for public services, job seeking, education etc on a limited income. I doubt we can legislate for a short sighted and ignorant father.

    2. Support the poor says:

      I smell… gammon.

    3. Anna says:

      Actually you don’t get Mortgage relief until you’ve been on UC for 39 weeks- I do with you would actually get some facts behind your drivel.

      What worries me is the “BT has access to check which customers are receiving specific benefits ” bit – so BT have access to DWP systems? Okay so who’s next?

    4. WibbledOff says:

      @Anna I’m sure you can work out that a year is 52 weeks. They lost their job in March 2020, hence last year.

      You would be surprised what information about you is being passed around, including bank and financial.

    5. Mike says:

      It will end when the government can no longer print without causing inflation/raising interest rates and then all the lazy slobs will starve to death.

    6. CarlT says:

      BT don’t have access to DWP records just FYI. Evidence is provided by those trying to take advantage of the offer. They have to prove their eligibility.

    7. CarlT says:

      ‘It will end when the government can no longer print without causing inflation/raising interest rates and then all the lazy slobs will starve to death.’

      Far more likely taxes will be increased.

      Excluding pensions welfare is a pretty small proportion of government spending and has been dropping recently.

      I am really bemused why a couple of people are frothing over this. In the grand scheme it’s really not a big deal.

    8. WibbledOff says:

      Putting up taxes won’t work if the increases don’t apply to those that are the majority.

      You seem to fail at seeing the bigger picture, I guess that’s a good sign you are not from a business background.

    9. Nick Roberts says:

      The price you pay for not having hordes of zombies wandering the country putting go faster stripes up the side of your E-Pace and bankrupts (Non-customers) forming an unsightly queue outside the local insolvency courts.

      You are going to see more and more of this, particularly in the face the ever onward rise of automation and ambulatory robotics taking over human functions at work. No doubt in, time, even some of the workforce in the “Fluff” industries e.g. the hostility (Correction hospitality) industry may go this way . . . . staff churn occasioned by the “Pandemic” is just the start.

      If the working population doesn’t decrease in number faster than wealth concentration in late-stage capitalist set-ups, and it clearly doesn’t, then only other solution is the one a infamous Germanic leader adopted.

  5. WibbledOff says:

    @Meadmodj I’m sorry to say this, but the benefit system actively supports non working. For example the amount of time it takes to get benefits it means people aren’t willing to give them up easily. It’s now too easy to get disability benefits for likes of having a stressful job. Not to mention that employers can’t compete with the same level of wages when you factor all the freebies they now get.

    Fair enough having access to look for work, but that can be done with a simple terminal access at the local job centre. No need to give 80mb Internet for that

    1. James™ says:

      “Fair enough having access to look for work, but that can be done with a simple terminal access at the local job centre. No need to give 80mb Internet for that”

      There is currently a pandemic and most of these places like job canters and public libraries are closed or not allow this currently.

      The increased speed from ADSL to fibre will help accommodate those that have children that need to do school work.

    2. WibbledOff says:

      Job centres have been open and still are open and I guess you’ve not heard that schools are open.

    3. CarlT says:

      ‘Not to mention that employers can’t compete with the same level of wages when you factor all the freebies they now get.’

      Depends on the job and employer I would imagine. My biggest issue with unemployment benefit is that it’s not based on previous earnings and should be.

    4. WibbledOff says:

      Not necessarily previous earnings, but more to the point if you’ve paid into the system then you can get benefits to help you get back on your feet, otherwise if you haven’t then you don’t get any help.

      For many and becoming more everday, benefits seems to be a way of life and not a way to get back on your feet

    5. WibbledOff says:

      I wonder what you would say if someone like Tesco said that those on benefits could have unlimited shopping for £10 a month. Would you be happy with that, or even say anyone who doesn’t like it is jealous?

    6. CarlT says:

      I remember hearing over 30 years ago about how living on welfare was becoming a way of life and yet more people are economically active now, or were before the virus, as a proportion of the population than in 1990.

      I’m not remotely bothered by some people receiving a relatively basic package like this at a discounted rate. They’re more in need than people with money who blag discounts for contract renewal.

    7. WibbledOff says:

      Yet if you look at the claimant rate it’s increasing year on year.

    8. 125us says:

      You’re actually jealous of the unemployed and poor? How dare they get something you haven’t got?

      What do you propose? Starving their kids until they find non-existent jobs in the middle of a pandemic?

    9. WibbledOff says:

      There is plenty of jobs, also plenty of lazy and fussy people who can’t be bothered to turn up even for job interviews. It’s not jealousy, seems like I’ve hit a nerve here, hate to think what you’re reactions are going to be like in the future when you will be forced to work.

    10. CarlT says:

      People don’t turn up for job interviews they get sanctioned: they lose welfare.

    11. WibbledOff says:

      In the old days yes, but now they just give the excuse that interviews give them anxiety and they are let off

    12. 125us says:

      Don’t be silly. I’ve worked every day of my adult life and I’ve been a senior manager in the telecoms industry for two decades. Don’t presume that anyone who disagrees with you is unemployed.

      You do know of course that most people in receipt of benefits are in work?

    13. WibbledOff says:

      I didn’t know that because it’s untrue. Can you point me to where you got this information from?

    14. WibbledOff says:

      Those figures are from 2019 and show clearly that majority aren’t working

    15. CarlT says:

      20 million claimants of which 13 million are pensioners.

      Most of the rest the benefit does not indicate unemployment by default. Housing benefit is available to the working poor, UC is available to the working poor.

      DLA and PIP are for the long-term disabled whether employed or not.

      The UK’s population is upwards of 67 million. Unless we are planning to send pensioners and kids out to work the working population is lower than that. The 7 million claimants of non-pension age include kids receiving DLA/PIP, alongside carers.

      The suggestion that the majority are claimants is not true. Trying to claim the statistics are wrong because they’re from 2019 is likewise a bad idea. Statistics for 2020 and 2021 will be anomalous due to pandemic impact.

    16. Ivor says:

      It’s not 80Mbit though is it, it’s the slowest FTTC speed that they offer. Just like how BT Basic is/was simply an ADSL2+ tariff and you got whatever the line could do. It makes little sense to make the effort and investment to provide an even slower speed, just so anonymous internet commenters can feel better that the poors are being put in their place.

      Even if it was 80Mbit I still couldn’t care less – unemployment and UC are rather miserable as it is, so I’m not going to care if someone’s speedtests look better than someone thinks they ought to be

    17. CarlT says:

      Just re-read. Either way still wrong based on the figures at hand pre-pandemic.


      6.8 million claimants, over 3.7 million of which are receiving incapacity benefits. 1/3rd of Universal Credit claimants, 760,000, in work. 1.3 million receiving carers’ allowanace. 1.6 million attendance allowance. Biggest single claim is housing benefit which doesn’t indicate unemployment. It’s available across the age spectrum including to the disabled.

      Nothing to indicate the majority of working age welfare claimants are claiming because they are avoiding work. Seems the majority are either disabled or working but receive a low income.

      How do you feel about the NHS and universal healthcare?

    18. WibbledOff says:

      Try reading this: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/employmentintheuk/september2019

      I’m sure you will note that your figures don’t add up and also notice they say about being the worst unemployment rate since 1971

    19. WibbledOff says:

      Love autocorrect lol. It would make your unemplyment figures to be about 2.5 million, which benefits do you think they are taking?

    20. CarlT says:


      Direct quotes from your own link:

      ‘Figure 4: Unemployment rate for everyone has not been lower since 1974’

      ‘Over the last five years: the estimated unemployment rate for everyone fell from 6.1% to 3.8%’

      ‘For May to July 2019, an estimated 1.29 million people were unemployed, 64,000 fewer than a year earlier and 716,000 fewer than five years earlier.’

      Impressive work indeed for 1.29 million job seekers to comprise the majority of 7 million working age claimants. If they are managing to do that we may well have a much more serious problem with welfare than I thought.

    21. WibbledOff says:

      I just used the estimated population figure you posted and roughly calculated in my head what 3.8% would be and that gave the 2.5 million

      From what I’ve seen trying to employ people these days, it seems that too many are using the disability benefits in order to get out of working. I looked into what someone needs in order to get PIP for instance, it’s surprising how little disability comes into it.

    22. WibbledOff says:

      I guess you’ve not seen their share price over the last year, it’s taken a nose dive lol

    23. CarlT says:

      The unemployment rate isn’t a percentage of the total population.

      Toodlers, infants and school age children aren’t a part of the workforce, neither are those unfit for work or those past state retirement age.

      As also noted in the link prior to the pandemic unemployment was pretty low. More people economically active.

    24. WibbledOff says:

      It was your figures that were used. I used them on purpose because I knew you would argue over it. Just shows you were posting things without thinking

    25. CarlT says:

      I think I’ve wasted enough time on this. Anyone with more to burn can read the links and comments and draw their own conclusions.

    26. WibbledOff says:

      Glad you find freewill a good thing and you allow people to have their own opinions, even though you spend time arguing over it

    27. Alex Atkin says:

      @WibbledOff As someone ON PIP, who spent 12 months waiting to go to a tribunal to overturn the pretty much default refusal, I can safely say you have no idea what you are talking about.

      The eligibility says one thing, but I’ve never heard of a single person NOT be refused when they tried to claim. When you go to the tribunal they expect proof from your doctor and also have a doctor there to ask you questions.

      It is NOT easy at all to get PIP when you ARE eligible, so anyone who has been able to get it under false pretences must be a wizard.

      As for people being better off on benefit, that is down to only one thing – not paying a living wage. The solution to that is not to cut benefit, its to enforce a proper living wage.

  6. Anna says:

    And yet many people on UC fail the BT credit check – so this is now scrapped for this?

    1. john says:

      No BT still using credit check as the same as EE and plusnet ISP

    2. CarlT says:

      Max: how do you know they credit check for this particular package?

      Anna: credit checks by BT are looking for adverse credit history. Even if they are doing the standard check as long as there’s no negative information on file it should be fine.

  7. CarlT says:

    Always interesting seeing how people on ISPR react to stories like this.

    Makes me wonder about their backgrounds as those most opposed to things like this seem to be more in the C2DE social grade.

    I guess struggling to understand it is an empathy fail on my part given I was brought up in a C2DE household, then lived in my own while I worked on my career and didn’t move to ABC1 until my late 20s.

    1. WibbledOff says:

      I come from a middle class background, though worked hard at school and did well at university. I didn’t take out loans or get my parents to pay for my education, I worked for it. Never been on benefits, even when I was out of work, I simply made sure I found work before I ran out of money and wasn’t picky about which jobs I took.

      I now run a successful business and done so out of hard work and not handouts. People seem to forget it’s people like me that’s kept the country going during the pandemic and I’m sure you can appreciate that when we are asked to fund the lazy and those that just want to live on benefits for the rest of their lives, that we will get annoyed and express our opinions.

      The day will come when we will say enough is enough, mainly because people and businesses won’t want to invest their time or money anymore.

    2. 125us says:

      “I’ve been exceptionally lucky throughout my life and now I find myself both secure and wealthy I like to feel jealous of people for whom the dice rolled differently.”


    3. WibbledOff says:

      It’s not out of luck, you make your own luck in this world. Shame too many people are lazy and can’t be bothered to even learn that basic lesson.

    4. 125us says:

      You’re giving an almost textbook example of the logical fallacy known as survivorship bias.

    5. WibbledOff says:

      All jargon and no factual information

    6. 125us says:

      Which bit don’t you understand?

      A logical fallacy is an error in thinking. There’s significant science underpinning them and anyone undertaking a science or philosophy degree will be taught how to avoid them. The avoidance of logical fallacies is key to critical thinking.

      Survivorship bias is a type of logical fallacy. There are many articles online you can read to understand it better.

      This isn’t jargon, it’s the result of centuries of thought in how to determine what is true versus what we would like to be true.

    7. WibbledOff says:

      There is a much simpler method of determining what is true and that is by looking at all the facts and the truth will reveal itself.

      Also be like water

    8. Alex Atkin says:

      “I simply made sure I found work before I ran out of money and wasn’t picky about which jobs I took”

      Do you not see the flaw in your logic here? Those of us from low-income families NEVER had this option. We never had ANY money to begin with.

      When my mum retired the fact me working a low-wage job would keep us paying full rent and council tax meant it wasn’t practical to keep working, there wouldn’t be enough money left to eat healthily enough to keep working. Granted, I have several disabilities that worked against me (so I couldn’t take ANY job and ultimately realised I couldn’t hold ANY job), but I know plenty of people in similar situations.

      Even ON PIP, I still live with my mum, there is no way I could afford the bills on my own. A friend of mine who went to university, still lives with his parents too.

      You don’t seem to understand that people on low income never HAVE that pot of cash to carry them between jobs, there is no spare cash to save, it all goes on bills and even while working eating can mean getting into debt. We never went on holiday, we only had a B&W TV through a chunk of my childhood. Its just not as simple as you are making out.

    9. Alex Atkin says:

      I feel I need to clarify, I meant I couldnt take any random job, I had to find a job I could handle before ultimately realising my health problems meant I couldnt hold ANY job at all.

      I never quit a job mind you, I was always fired for having too many sick days.

  8. JP says:

    Oh wow, I’ve just remembered how stories regarding 5G had the comments section disabled due to various reasons last year but the age old divide of the classes gets to air everytime, I’ll be sure to reflect on these fallouts of mankind if I survive the Mad Max times “soon to become overdue.”


    1. CarlT says:

      I’m concerned about which sector I’m going to end up in and whether or not I’m going to be forced to take part in the hunger games paying tribute to The Capitol.

  9. Nick Roberts says:

    I take it, with a steadily shrinking requirement for labour and similarly reducing number of the workforce who can claim to be financially fully self-supporting over their lifetime, that all the “Good” entreprenneurs will be giving directly and indirectly state-funded customers a wide berth . . . . because they think their purchasing power is not obtained ethically.

    Ditto the retired.

    Yeah, sure . . . just like the housing rental market . . . the four-wheel depreciating asset market . . . . . the gambling palaces . . . the mobility scooter, equity release, and deep-six box industries . . to name a few.

  10. C Bennett says:

    After the fiasco that was BT Basic. 2 times I asked to be connected to this service & 2 times they failed. I made a complaint to the Ombudsman and what a joke they were.

    No apology, No service & also no connection. Yet I am entitled to it!

    BT is a complete joke when connecting people to this kind of service as they have you pay £100x before your actually connected to the system of entitlement. You cannot claim the monies you have already paid out to the connected service.

    In short it’s another con!

    This service will be the same!

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