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Confusion as SNP Promotes Social Tariff for Broadband and Mobile

Tuesday, Jun 18th, 2024 (10:04 am) - Score 1,040
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The Scottish National Party (Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba) yesterday offered a preview of their forthcoming 2024 Manifesto for the UK General Election, which among other things promised to extend their idea of a social tariff for energy providers to also include broadband and mobile services. But the latter already exists.

Social tariffs are typically cheaper packages that are usually only available to those on state benefits (sometimes only certain state benefits). The good news is that, in recent years, Ofcom and the UK government have been reasonably successful in encouraging a wide array of mobile and broadband operators to launch social tariffs for consumers. Most of those hover around or upwards of the £15 per month mark.

The fact that such tariffs already exist created some confusion yesterday after the SNP’s Leader, John Swinney, announced that their forthcoming “manifesto will set out a social tariff to reduce energy, broadband, and mobile bills for hard-pressed consumers.”

So far, we’ve been unable to find an online copy of any transcripts or press releases from yesterday’s event that covered this. But various media reports have quoted John Swinney as stating that their social scheme for broadband/mobile would be better than what already exists because it would be more “comprehensive” and they’d “make sure that [it has] got the range and the scope to [reach] everybody that needs to be supported by such a tariff in our society“. This doesn’t tell us much.

John Swinney said:

“Fast broadband and good mobile phone connections are critical to modern life. In fact, in rural Scotland and the Isles, it is critical to the whole future of the economy. As more and more people work from home at least part of the week, often you literally cannot do your job without a decent internet connection.

That’s why, to help people get jobs, keep jobs and keep more of their hard-earned cash, there should be a social tariff for broadband and mobile charges too.”

The hope is that the imminent launch of the SNP’s Manifesto document this week may provide more in the way of actual details, such as in terms of how the tariffs will practically differ from what already exists. Not to mention the question of how the SNP will encourage ISPs to introduce something that sounds like it may only be available to people in Scotland. The latter would be particularly tedious for ISPs to juggle, especially around the border communities.

However, manifestos aren’t particularly well known for their ability to flesh new policies out, so we’re not holding out much hope for greater clarity as the week rolls on.

NOTE: Readers should always take political pledges, from any party, with a pinch of salt until there’s more solid detail (something manifestos often lack). We also ask readers who comment on these manifestos to kindly avoid the usual level of toxic and abusive political commentary that sadly sometimes flows from such debates (such comments may not be approved).
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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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7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Hi Mark would you please cover the Reform manifesto? They are polling higher than libs and conservatives and their manifesto actually has some really good policies proposed for us in broadband, especially on the tax front with lower corporation taxes, lower income taxes which will help us recruit and retain staff more easily, they’ll slash a lot of redtape on brownfield sites and they’ve pledged cheaper energy. It is a breath of fresh air as every other party is proposing the exact opposite: more taxes and more regulations

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’m currently only covering parties that actually have specific broadband and mobile policies/mentions in their manifestos. Both the Greens and Reform don’t specifically mention either, so they’ll be handled later / differently, as otherwise it would be a very short piece.

      I am not getting into a wider analysis of economic or tax policies for any parties, as that’s beyond my area of expertise and is always more open to complex / differing interpretations.

    2. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

      Name one Reform policy that has anything to do with broadband. Nothing good can come from that shower of unspeakables no matter what words they say.

    3. Avatar photo Jimmy says:

      So from what Mark says, they have absolutely no policies regarding broadband or mobile connectivity. Is that right? Anything on planning policy reform even?

    4. Avatar photo Sam says:

      It’s literally explained in the post. If the state steals less money then there’s more for companies to rollout and for people to get better packages

  2. Avatar photo NoMoneyPenny says:

    You don’t have to be on benefits to be ‘struggling’ financially

    Some of the worst examples of deprivation nowadays where people are in full time work and have been told they’re just not eligible for any help. What about those people?

  3. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    Once again… Governments being out of touch with how the world works… These have been a thing for years on broadband and mobile, as Mark writes… Do they actually research things?

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