Social tariffs: Cheaper broadband and phone packages

Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming some benefits; such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit. You may also see them referred to as ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband.

They’re delivered in the same way as other packages, just at a lower price. As the cost of living rises, Ofcom and Central Government are calling on providers to offer social tariffs to help customers who need it most.

How can a social tariff help you?

  • It’s available to those on a variety of benefits. If you or someone in your household claims Universal Credit , you could switch to any of the social tariffs available.
  • It’s priced cheaper than regular broadband/phone packages. Prices range from £10 to £20.
  • It’s fast and unlimited broadband. There are social tariff broadband packages providing download speeds over 30Mbps – which is fast enough to keep in touch with friends and family, stream services in HD quality and access most common digital services.
  • There should little to no set up cost involved. If you do have to pay any setup costs, these should be minimal. Your selected provider will make you away of any setup charges prior to you signing up for service.
  • It could cost nothing to switch. If your current provider offers a social tariff, you can switch to it at any time, free of charge.
  • Your monthly cost is fixed for the life of the contract. You won’t experience in-life contract price rises, and what you signed up for at the start will be what you pay throughout your contract.
  • It costs nothing to leave. You won’t pay a fee to leave the tariff before the end of the contract.

Some providers offer cheaper broadband packages that are only available to customers on certain benefits, such as BT. The provider will be able to check your eligibility to access these.

Who qualifies for social tariffs?

If you, or someone else in your household, claims Universal Credit, you could switch to any of the social tariffs available.

All major providers also including those on Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support.

There may be some additional benefits that providers would accept as qualifying for social tariffs, such as Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance.

The person in receipt of the benefit must be the main person on the contract.

How to apply?

First, if you’re already mid-contract, it’s worth checking with your current provider whether they offer a social tariff. Most tariffs these days can be applied for online, or call your provider and ask to switch.

If your provider is one that doesn’t yet offer a social tariff, you’re able to switch to one that does. Your provider may let you leave your current contract without paying an early termination fee. For further detail regarding switching broadband please consult this Ofcom guidance.


List of broadband and phone social tariffs

Package & provider

Monthly cost

Average download speed

4th Utility Social Tariff



BT Home Essentials


Around 36Mbps

BT Home Essentials 2


Around 67Mbps

EE Basics


Up to 25Mbps

NOW Broadband Basics



Sky Broadband Basics



SMARTY Social Tariff


5G where available

Virgin Media Essential Broadband



Virgin Media Essential Broadband Plus



Vodafone Essentials Broadband



VOXI For Now


5G where available

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