New BT Home Essentials social tariff service just £15/m
BT has launched a new social tariff that looks like it is replacing the older BT Basics product. The new tariff is based around the VDSL2 or full fibre product that offers 38 Mbps download speeds (the VDSL2/FTTC version speeds will of course be constrained by the distance from the green cabinet with the electronics in it).
The new £15 tariff is targetted at those receving Universal Credit and other people receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, and Employment and Support Allowance. The estimates suggest some 4.6 million households will be eligible for the new service.
In addition to the 40/10 product at £15/m, there is an option to add more speed and upgrade to the 80/20 (67 Mbps average download speeds and maximum of 20 Mbps upload) with a monthly cost of £20/m. Both packages include 700 minutes of landline calls.
Fast, reliable connectivity has never been as important as it is today, with millions of people relying upon our networks to get back on their feet after the pandemic.
We want to help as many people as we can, which is why at the end of June we’ll be launching BT Home Essentials, increasing the eligibility of our social tariff to include all customers on Universal Credit. BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fibre package, helping a potential four million households on low income save on bills and stay connected to vital online services.Marc Allera, CEO, BT’s Consumer division
The cheapest BT FTTC/FTTP product otherwise is the Essentials Fibre package which has an offer price of £24.99/m to £27.99/m for 24 months depending on point in the price offer cycle. After the 24 month period the price would usually rise to £32.99/m unless you enter into another minimum term. Competitors to BT Consumer often can undercut this pricing with the same speeds fro £22 to £24/m.
BT is not alone amongst the nationwide providers in having a social tariff, as Virgin Media offers a £15/m service with 15 Mbps down and 2 Mbps upload speeds to existing customers if they end up on Universal Credit. Beyond corporate social responsibility offering social tariffs will be a big help with the ongoing moves for a regulated social tariff to be introduced that could apply to ALL broadband providers i.e. self regulation and creation of reasonable products can be more flexible than working within a strict set of rules that regulation will usually create.
In today's digital world, everyone should be able to access fast, reliable and affordable internet, so I'm thrilled that BT is the latest provider to launch new deals for low income households. “We have been working with internet providers to offer affordable broadband tariffs for those struggling with bills to help the UK build back fairer from the pandemic. I hope to see others taking similar action soon.Digital Infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman
During the pandemic Universal Credit recipients received an extra £20/week to try and help offset higher costs such as shopping delivery or shopping at more expensive but local shops. Additionally this extra money will have allowed a good number of households to keep paying for their broadband connection or sign up to a service so that children could have reasonable broadband at home. The £20/wk boost to Universal Credit is currently set to end in September 2021 and by having affordable broadband packages more widely available the cynic can suggest that makes it more likely that the £20/wk boost will vanish in September.
The new service will be available in June 2021 so a few weeks to wait for those keen to reduce their monthly utility bills and stretch their limited income. We understand there is no minimum term on Home Essentials and BT is able to check eligibility and will check whether a customer is still in receipt of Universal Credit (or equivalent) annually, though what happens price wise is unclear. We suspect until the full product pages launch with a set of terms and conditions we won't know for sure, our guess would be that BT will automatically more customers back on the standard BT Essentials product at £32.99/m.
No doubt some reading this be reminded that in the 2019 General Election Labour was promising free full fibre broadband for all. That plan would very neatly have solved any testing for eligibility but given the scope of the plan i.e. universal and full fibre and extremely likely battles with the commercial sector which would have meant both unions and ISP owners engaging in long legal cases the promise of free broadband might actually have still been some years away.