Special discounted packages, known as ‘social tariffs’, are available to some 4.2 million households on Universal Credit. Only 55,000 homes have taken up the offer to date, just 1.2 percent of those who are eligible.
Industry regulator Ofcom is calling on other broadband firms to arrange their own social tariffs to support Britons on low incomes who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.
The group said on its website: “We also want to see all companies promote these deals more widely, and make sure it’s swift and simple for customers to sign up.”
An Ofcom report found 1.1 million households are struggling to afford their home broadband, which rises to one in 10 among those on the lowest incomes.
The group said: “Affordability problems are likely to worsen in 2022 due to retail price increases and the wider squeeze on household finances, putting further pressure on those who can least afford it.
People on Universal Credit can also access a social tariff for Virgin Media Essential Broadband, at 15 Mbit/s, for £15 a month.
Ofcom is urging more providers to offer the deal, with big companies who are still yet to offer the support including EE, Plusnet, Shell, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone.
The regulator said: “Any communications with customers about price rises should also include details of available social tariffs.
“Providers should also consider partnering with local authorities and consumer advice agencies to spread the word.”
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Network and Communications group director, said: “People rely on their broadband for staying in touch, working and learning from home.
“But for those who are really struggling with rising bills, every penny counts. Special discounts can make all the difference, and too many broadband firms are failing either to promote their social tariff or to offer one at all.
“We expect companies to step up support for those on low incomes, and we’ll be watching their response.”