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A Quick Guide to UK Social Tariffs – Getting Broadband for £15 – UPDATED Apr 2024

Monday, Aug 29th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 9,248
money for broadband in uk homes

The cost-of-living crisis is having a horrific impact on the UK and forcing many households into poverty, including those that would have previously been considered secure. But the good news is that a growing number of home broadband ISPs and mobile operators have launched a range of cheaper “social tariffs“.

Not so long ago, the only telecoms companies providing a social tariff – plans that operators provide at close to cost price – were BT and KCOM, although the options they offered were somewhat less than desirable and the vast majority of people didn’t even know they existed. Such tariffs are typically only available to those in receipt of certain state benefits (e.g. Universal Credit), which can vary between providers.

NOTE: Ofcom’s Affordability Report found 1.1 million households (5% of the UK) are still “struggling to afford their home broadband service” (here) and this will no doubt rise.

However, over the past year much has changed, thanks in part to pressure from a number of MPs, the Government, various consumer groups and industry regulator Ofcom. All have been pushing for more telecoms providers to introduce social tariffs, as well as enhancing existing options and improving the promotion of such services. As a result, the list of providers with social tariffs has grown, and they’re now much more attractive.

Admittedly, there are still problems. Ofcom has estimated that, out of 4.6 million households in receipt of Universal Credit, just 380,000 had taken a social tariff (8.3% of those eligible). This is a problem because a standard commercial broadband plan costs an unemployed person claiming UC an average of £27 per month (8.3% of their monthly disposable income), while a social tariff costing c. £15 reflects just 4.6% of disposable income.

One of the most well-known challenges in all this stems from the sheer lack of consumer awareness around the existence of such tariffs (Ofcom found that 55% of benefits recipients still didn’t know that social tariffs exist, but this is down from 70% in 2022). Naturally, it doesn’t help that broadband ISPs, perhaps understandably, tend not to openly promote such plans alongside their main products and often hide them away on separate pages.

Summary of Social Tariffs (Updated: March 2024)

Ofcom’s definition of a social tariff is perhaps still a little open to interpretation, but they require such tariffs to offer pricing stability, avoid early termination charges and have minimal initial upfront costs. The regulator said that a provider cannot merely convert an existing package and call it comparable to a ‘social tariff’ without factoring this in.

However, in the list below we have decided to include CommunityFibre’s ‘Essentials 35Mbps‘ plan, which is despite the fact that the ISP makes it available to anybody covered by their network (not only those on benefits). We’ve also included a separate list at the bottom for mobile operators, although at the time of writing only VOXI (Vodafone) appears to offer such a plan. We intend to keep this article updated as changes occur.

Take note that a lot of the providers have 12-month contracts below, but this is often more about the need to re-check your eligibility every year than the point at which you may be hit by a price rise. Social tariffs are not usually hit by the same frequency of price rises as normal packages, which reflects Ofcom’s requirement for “pricing stability” (the usual aim is for a plan costing around £15).

All the packages below also come with unlimited usage, free installation and a router. But you may need to return the router if you cease being eligible, unless you upgrade to a different package with the same ISP.

NOTE: Most providers will require you to supply some documents as proof that you are receiving state benefits, which may need to be re-checked every month or yearly.

Social Tariffs for UK Broadband

BT – Home Essentials

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 36Mbps / 10Mbps £9.99 12 Months
£20 67Mbps / 20Mbps £9.99 12 Months

Eligibility Requirements: Universal Credit (all claimants), Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support.

➤ Network Availability: Available nationally via Openreach’s broadband network.

Notes: You can also take a call-only plan for £10 a month

B4RN – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 1000Mbps / 1000Mbps £60 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Available to those receiving Council Tax Support.

➤ Network Availability: c.20,000 premises in rural parts of Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cheshire and Northumberland.

➤ Notes: None

Community Fibre – Essential 35Mbps

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£12.50 35Mbps / 35Mbps £14.95 12 Months

Eligibility Requirements: None.

➤ Network Availability: Significant coverage across parts of London (1.2 million premises).

➤ Notes: Not technically a social tariff, but it is aimed squarely at the same market and the ISP doesn’t promote it alongside their main packages. Small print says price is for 12-months, but doesn’t clarify the post-contract rate.

Country Connect – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 50Mbps / 50Mbps £0 12 Months

Eligibility Requirements: Must be on either Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit).

Network Availability: Covers parts of Monmouthshire and Newport (Ponthir, Caerleon) in Wales.

Notes: No early exit fees, so you’re not tied in if your circumstances change.

G.Network – Essential Fibre Broadband

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 50Mbps / 15Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on either Universal Credit, Income Support, Pension Credit (guarantee credit), Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Network Availability: Covers a significant number of premises in parts of London.

Notes: None.

Hyperoptic – Fair Fibre Plan

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 50Mbps / 5Mbps £0 1 Month
£20 150Mbps / 150Mbps £0 1 Month

Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Income Support, Pension Credit, Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers support or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Network Availability: Covers around 1 million premises across parts of 57 UK towns and Cities.

➤ Notes: Spend an extra £3 to get “free” evening and weekend UK landline calls.

KCOM – Flex

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£14.99 30Mbps / 5Mbps £0 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Income Support, Pension Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit with zero earnings, Care Home residents and Lifeline customers who are referred to them via Social Services, Care Leavers or Employment and Support Allowance (EAS) (Income related).
➤ Network Availability: Covers a large area of East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire in England.

Notes: Add calls for just £5.10 per month on a 12 month contract.

Sky Broadband – Sky Basics

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 36Mbps / 8.5Mbps £0 18 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Universal Credit or Pension Credit and be named on the Universal or Pension Credit monthly statement.

➤ Network Availability: Available nationally via Openreach’s broadband network.

➤ Notes: Includes pay as you go calls and a free Sky Mobile tariff with 3GB of data and unlimited calls/texts. Sky states that you must be an existing Sky Broadband customers to take this plan.

Now Broadband – Now Basics

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 36Mbps / 8.5Mbps £0 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

➤ Network Availability: Available nationally via Openreach’s broadband network.

➤ Notes: Includes pay as you go calls. NOW appears to suggest that this package is intended for their existing broadband users.

The 4th Utility

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£13.99 30Mbps / 30Mbps £0 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be claiming one of the following: Universal credit, Income support, Jobseekers allowance or Employment and support allowance.

➤ Network Availability: The provider expects to cover 94,000 homes with their new full fibre network by the end of December 2022, including a fair few MDUs (residential flats etc.).

➤ Notes: We’ve been unable to find a specific web page for the new tariff.

Virgin Media – Essential Broadband

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£12.50 15Mbps / 2Mbps £0 1 Month
£20 50Mbps / 5Mbps £0 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Available to existing customers who receive Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income-based Employment Support Allowance.

➤ Network Availability: National availability to over half of all UK premises, mostly in urban areas.

Notes: None

Grayshott Gigabit – Connect

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 100Mbps / 100Mbps £0 6 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit with zero earnings, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Care Home residents and Lifeline customers who are referred to us via Social Services, Care Leavers or Employment and Support Allowance (EAS) (Income Related).

➤ Network Availability: Limited availability in rural parts of East Hampshire, the Surrey Hills and surrounding areas.

Notes: None

RunFibre – Social

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 100Mbps / 100Mbps £0 24 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on qualifying OAP/Benefits (details unclear from website)

➤ Network Availability: Rural villages in South Gloucestershire (England).

Notes: None

Vodafone – Essentials Broadband

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 73Mbps / 18Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on qualifying benefits including Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

➤ Network Availability: Available nationally via Openreach and Cityfibre’s broadband networks (FTTC / FTTP).

Notes: None

WightFibre – Essential Broadband

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£17.50 50Mbps £0 n/a

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on qualifying benefits including Universal Credit and Pension Credit.

➤ Network Availability: Isle of Wight.

➤ Notes: Package includes a Pay As You Go (PAYG) phone service.

Alncom – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 35Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on qualifying benefits including Universal Credit and Pension Credit.

➤ Network Availability: Parts of Northumberland, County Durham and the Scottish Borders.

➤ Notes: None.

Lightning Fibre – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 50Mbps £0 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on qualifying benefits including Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, and Care Leavers’ Support.

➤ Network Availability: Parts of East / West Sussex and Kent

➤ Notes: None.

YouFibre – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 50Mbps £0 24 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on qualifying benefits including Universal Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, and Care Leavers’ Support.

➤ Network Availability: Semi-national coverage via CityFibre and Netomnia’s infrastructure.

➤ Notes: They won’t apply early termination fees if your benefits circumstances change, provided 30-days’ notice is given, thus the contract term is fairly soft.

Truespeed Basic

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 30Mbps ? ? Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be either a pensioner or on income support

➤ Network Availability: Limited FTTP coverage in South West England – mostly Somerset

➤ Notes: At the time of writting this tariff didn’t appear to have its own web page on the provider’s site (i.e. the details are limited).

Wildanet – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 50Mbps / 20Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on Universal Credit

➤ Network Availability: Limited FTTP coverage in South West England – mostly Cornwall and Devon

➤ Notes: Promise of no mid-contract price rises

Grain – Social and Social Plus

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£15 15Mbps / 15Mbps £0 12 Months
£22.50 30Mbps / 30Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on either Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income-based Employment Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support.

➤ Network Availability: Very limited UK FTTP coverage via Grain’s own network – progress unclear.

➤ Notes: You can add a VoIP phone service for an extra £7 per month.

MTH Networks – Social Tariff (OFNL)

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£22.20 30Mbps / 5Mbps £30 3 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on either Universal Credit or Pension Credit and will need to re-confirm every 90 days.

➤ Network Availability: Very limited UK FTTP coverage via OFNL’s network

➤ Notes: None.

Connect Fibre – Basic Essentials

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 50Mbps / 50Mbps £0 1 Month
£25 150Mbps / 150Mbps £0 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Available to recipients of any of the following benefits Income Support Pension Credit, Incomore-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Disability Benefit, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers Support, or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

➤ Network Availability: Very limited FTTP coverage in the East of England

➤ Notes: None.

Ashford Fibre – Social Tariff (OFNL)

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£20 30Mbps / 5Mbps £0 3 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on either Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

➤ Network Availability: Very limited UK FTTP coverage via OFNL’s network

➤ Notes: The one-off setup fee is free, but it rises to £50 if you need a router.

Hey! Broadband – Everyday Fibre

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£16 100Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on either Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-related Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit – Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance – Care Leavers support.

➤ Network Availability: Very limited UK FTTP coverage via operator F&W Networks.

➤ Notes: None.

Lothian Broadband – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£19.99 100Mbps / 100Mbps £0 24 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on any means tested benefit.

➤ Network Availability: Very limited FTTP coverage in Scotland (Lothian).

➤ Notes: None.

Pulse8 – Social Tariff OFNL

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£23.50 30Mbps / 5Mbps £30 3 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Proof of Universal Credit or Pension Credit required.

➤ Network Availability: Only available via their OFNL full fibre packages.

➤ Notes: None.

Quickline – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£16.50 100Mbps £? ?

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be taking one of the following benefits – Pension Credit, Income Support, Universal Credit – Zero Earnings, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Care Leavers, Attendance Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment

➤ Network Availability: Only available via their Quickline full fibre packages in North East England.

➤ Notes: Full package details not clearly stated on page.

Fibrus – Full Fibre Essential

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£14.99 50Mbps / 20Mbps £0 12 Months

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be taking one of the following benefits – Income-based Employment Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit or Universal Credit.

➤ Network Availability: Only available via their full fibre networks in North England and Northern Ireland.

➤ Notes: No package speeds promoted, which is confusing.

Pulse Fibre – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Speed (DL / UL) Setup Contract
£18 100Mbps £0 None (monthly)

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Available to those claiming Universal Credit.

➤ Network Availability: Only available via certain new build home developments.

➤ Notes: Website displays no details of their social tariff, customers have to call to request information.

As a side note, TalkTalk has launched a special offer for jobseekers, which gives them 6-months free on their 35Mbps “Fibre” package and doesn’t prevent customers from leaving at the end of that period (here). But this is too far removed from a normal Social Tariff to be fully listed above.

Social Tariffs for UK Mobile

VOXI – For Now

Monthly Price Included Calls / Texts
Data Allowance Contract
£10 Unlimited Unlimited Social Media * 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Jobseeker’s allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability allowance or Personal independence payment.

➤ Network Availability: National via Vodafone’s 4G and 5G network.

Notes: * You get full unlimited data for 6 months and then it drops back to unlimited social media access.

EE – Basics

Monthly Price Included Calls / Texts
Data Allowance Contract
£12 Unlimited 5GB 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either Universal credit (All claimants), Pension credit (Guarantee Credit), Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker’s allowance – eligibility rules apply (see full Basics plan T&Cs)

➤ Network Availability: National via EE’s 4G and 5G network.

Notes: The data speed is capped at 25Mbps.

SMARTY – Social Tariff

Monthly Price Included Calls / Texts
Data Allowance Contract
£12 Unlimited Unlimited 1 Month

➤ Eligibility Requirements: Must be on one of either income-based employment support, income-based job seekers, income support, pension credit or universal credit.

➤ Network Availability: National via Three UK’s 4G and 5G network.

➤ Notes: Adds inclusive EU roaming (12GB fair usage cap) and unrestricted Tethering in the UK.

Take note that Sky Mobile also has a social tariff, but this is bundled for free with their ‘Basics’ plan for Sky Broadband customers and so doesn’t get its own listing.

Closing Thoughts

One important point to make is that the price we all pay for communication services, whether via a social tariff or otherwise, is currently being dwarfed by the colossal hikes in energy (gas and electricity), petrol and other bills. If people are struggling to afford even a fairly basic broadband or mobile package, then they’ve probably got much more serious considerations in those other areas, such as heating their homes in winter or buying food to live.

Broadband is also an extremely important service and one that can help you to save money on other products and services; thus, it could be argued that a modern internet connection more than pays for itself in the value it returns. Likewise, today people typically receive faster speeds and more data for less money, thus even as prices rise – then over time the value proposition tends to go up as technology improves, unless you live in a disadvantaged area (e.g. remote rural), where upgrades have yet to reach.

Finally, the government has just introduced a new system for ISPs that offer social tariffs, which will make it easier for consumers to check their eligibility for such plans via supporting providers (here). But at the time of writing only Virgin Media (VMO2) had adopted it, although we expect that to change.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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