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Sky Broadband UK is First National ISP to Harness DWP Verification for Social Tariffs

Monday, Jan 16th, 2023 (3:19 pm) - Score 4,440

The Government has today confirmed that UK ISP Sky Broadband has officially become the first “national provider” to adopt a new system from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which allows them to verify – with a customers’ permission – that they are in receipt of key state benefits and therefore eligible for the social tariff.

In case anybody has forgotten. Both Sky Broadband and sibling NOW Broadband (NOW TV) have launched cheaper social tariffs for those on benefits to take. For example, Sky Broadband Basics costs £20 a month for 18 months, including average download speeds of 36Mbps (8.5Mbps uploads) or – if FTTC/P isn’t available where you live – customers will instead receive average speeds of 11Mbps (ADSL). The package also includes standard call rates via Sky Pay As You Talk and a router.

NOTE: Sky’s Basics package is only available if you already have Sky Broadband. The package also includes a mobile tariff, provides – for free – existing users with unlimited UK calls / texts and 3GB of data per month for 12 months (here).

Take note that Sky’s sub-brand also has a similar NOW Broadband Basics package with the same price and features, albeit on an ongoing monthly contract. The other catch is that the Sky Mobile offer doesn’t appear to be available alongside this service. Both are available to those taking Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income-based Employment Support Allowance (I-ESA), Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (I-JSA) or Income Support (IS).

However, one of the difficulties with Social Tariffs for ISPs, particularly smaller players, stems from the additional costs of maintaining such plans and with having to manually check customer eligibility for them. Last year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) began working with ISPs (here) to implement a new automated system that could verify – with the customer’s permission – whether they are in receipt of a relevant benefit.

The new system will also simplify the process by removing the need for customers to prove their entitlement to broadband providers (e.g. sending screenshots of their Universal Credit account or providing a letter from the Jobcentre), which can occur as regularly as every month. The first ISP to officially adopt this was WightFibre (here), but they’ve now been followed by the first national ISP – Sky Broadband.

Mims Davies, Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression, said:

“It’s positive to see a major provider, such as Sky, sign up to our scheme, making it easier for families to access cheaper broadband and mobile tariffs in difficult times, and I call on other providers to follow suit in offering this type of tariff for those in need.

Claimants who think they might be eligible for one of these tariffs, should contact their provider.

This is just one of the ways we are working to help households during these tough times as part of the government’s £37 billion support package for those most in need. Do use the DWP benefits calculator, which is a helpful tool for those looking to see if they could access wider support.”

We fully expect that more ISPs will implement the new automatic entitlement checker during the course of 2022, but we won’t be providing running commentary on every single one, as that would quickly become quite repetitive. We should add that BT also seem to be using it, although the Gov clearly says Sky was the first at a national level.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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24 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam Perry says:

    BT do this as well. You have to provide your national insurance number.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      According to the government, “Sky is the first major connectivity provider to join DWP initiative making it easier for benefits claimants to get discounted broadband and mobile tariffs.” But BT do seem to use it as well, so I suspect it’s all in the subtleties of who implemented it first etc.

    2. Avatar photo Oatcakes says:

      I’d like to further add (as an employee with BT in there order management team) that we have been doing via national insurance number for the last 6-8 months. It was how it was introduced to us in training when the first package came out.

      (There was a few issues with these orders though which might be why this wasn’t officaly released)

  2. Avatar photo Harry says:

    This is quite frankly, a ridiculous policy. The solution is to increase benefits, not lean on ISPs to give benefit claimants a cheaper tariff.

    What next? A special card for cheaper food in Tesco? Flash your UC card in a pub for a half price pint?

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I suspect the government would rather do this than raise tax further to pay for such things. The ‘lean on industry’ approach is a cheaper way to brag about having done something, but as such tariffs grow, then some ISPs may need to off-set what they lose from somewhere else.

    2. Avatar photo John says:

      Benefits should be cut, not increased

      In a time of record taxation and spending, the solution is to decrease them, not steal more money from people nor get into more debt

    3. Avatar photo HullLad says:

      Solid logic from John, there, on how the lowest paid members of our society should avoid debt, when the cost of everything is going up and wages have stagnated… Pay them less.

      Here’s a fun fact – the public sector saves money by moving its services online, and benefits greatly from managing claimants this way. It’s to the taxpayers benefit to ensure as many people as possible are online and not digitally excluded.

    4. Avatar photo John is a clown says:

      “Benefits should be cut, not increased” – John

      So you expect my son who has quadriplegia (Paralysis from the neck down) who already struggles to pay for his rent, bills, healthcare, food etc to have even LESS money do you?

      Here’s hoping you never need to live on disability benefits snowflake!

    5. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @John, for people who are too lazy to go out to work yes, but there are people out there that want to work but can’t. A friend of mine have been working for years while suffering from ill health and now been told she has to give up work at least for a while to concentrate on her health, so should she get no benefits and lose her house?

      You don’t have a clue

    6. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Stealing to help your son is wrong, appeal to charity.

    7. Avatar photo John says:

      There is a big between you being in debt and the state putting grandkids in debt. Money stolen from others is not someone else’s payment

      I don’t care what your personal circumstances are but like Mike said, appeal to charity if you fail to provide for your own son

      If you cannot pay your mortgage and failed to save enough to keep an emergency fund then you do not care about your property

    8. Avatar photo libertarian says:

      Based. Taxation is theft

    9. Avatar photo Pablo says:

      I stubbed my toe so I demand taxpayer money to pay for a yacht. How dare you have any say on how much money I take away from you

    10. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      @John (etc), I believe that in a civilised society there is a moral obligation on people to support those that are less fortunate than themselves, whether due to disability, illness, or other misfortune.
      While charity can help, by far the most efficient and cost effective way to give aid where it is needed is through a welfare system paid for through general taxation.
      I find it commendable that you are able and willing to help out your own family (and friends?) when required without recourse to benefits.
      However, even as someone that pays more income tax than most, I’m happy for those less fortunate than yourself to receive benefits (which I think should be increased!) paid from my tax.

    11. Avatar photo Phil says:

      If you believe in moral obligation then you’ll donate from your own pocket. The word for that is called charity. Stealing however, which is what taxation is since there is no consent, is the opposite of moral

      Believing that your taxed money is efficiently spent even as forms of welfare is woeful ignorance

      Civilization not only existed but also thrived far before income taxes came into fruition which was around 80 years ago. People like you need to stop getting brainwashed into thinking that taxation isn’t theft. The result would be that people would become wealthier and much less people would become more productive as a result of not being dependent on the state

    12. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      @Phil, actually income tax in the UK was introduced 224 years ago (and other forms of taxation existed long before that). Income tax pays for lots of things other than benefits – schools, the armed forces, the NHS, old age pensions, etc. These benefit the whole of society – even if you don’t personally use all the services provided yourself.
      I’d rather live in a society with a welfare system than one where it is every man for themselves – when people get desperate they do whatever they can to survive, crime would be rife.
      Anyway, the HMRC should send you a letter each year showing just where your personal tax money has been allocated.

    13. Avatar photo Richard says:

      I would rather live without a nanny thieving overbloated welfare state trying to take away my car. You are free to move to Lithuania which has the highest income taxation in Europe. Tons of people on higher incomes have been fleeing to places like the US and Singapore. Punishing people with more taxes for being more productive is a detriment to a country’s success. Capital flight makes it a worse society, not better

      You should come down to Birmingham and check out the “non rife crime”

    14. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      @Richard, so you think crime would be less if you didn’t have to pay any tax?
      If you think the government takes too much tax why don’t you just earn more money to make up the difference? (that’s what I do). There are lots of ways to earn more, not all of them need physical work – you can even use the internet!

    15. Avatar photo Richard says:

      You’re the one who brought up crime as a benefit for higher taxes

      “The govt takes too much money so let’s give it even more” is a brainlet take. Sure you can do that yourself but intelligent people will just move residence, work exactly the same hours but end up with more money due to less being stolen by the state

      Any time leftists don’t have arguments they just devolve into school insults

    16. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      @Richard, actually I’m not a “leftist” (some of my views are scarily right wing). And I’m not aware of using any school insults, although I have seen some here.
      When people do resort to using inarticulate rants there is always the risk others will view them as selfish arseholes, and then while away their spare time goading them online 😉

    17. Avatar photo John says:

      “If you think the government takes too much tax why don’t you just earn more money to make up the difference? (that’s what I do).”

      The irony in this is hilarious. This is already happening and it causes price inflation.

      Lefties want higher taxes on companies and landlords, companies hike prices to make up the difference, landlords hike rents to make up the difference. The only one hurting is the one at the bottom, the only one winning is the rulling class

    18. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      @John, my suggestion to earn more money was directed at Richard – he’d suggested that to another contributor. If you don’t agree then maybe take it up with him?

  3. Avatar photo HullLad says:

    KCOM do this too. It’s how they validate customers who apply for their social access packages.

  4. Avatar photo Gregor Strachan says:

    BT have had access to the DWP database for many years, for use in ordering a “BT Basic” (restricted outbound calls) phone line, which was only available for people on certain state benefits.

Comments are closed

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