Broadband News

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.


Virgin's social tariff is looking decidedly stingy by comparison.

  • jfinnie
  • 12 days ago

I hope this new Essential package is going to be possible to apply for. I tried and tried and tried to apply for the Basic package back in the day - sent round in circles until I gave up. Virgin Media is indeed stingy by comparison - but then, they are the most money grabbing service out there, hike prices at the drop of a hat, no loyalty incentives, dreadful Customer Services - I see they are taking a leaf out of the Government's book and EXCLUDING legacy benefit recipients. I will be changing from VM to BT as soon as possible.

  • Magene
  • 12 days ago

I tried for 3 months to get BT to send me the form for their Basic package for and elderly man in social housing on benefits. It had to be applied for on their form which only the computer could send. Despite innumerable BT people promising they had pressed "Send form" and the computer had acknowledged the request the form never arrived. Funny that. I just had to get him onto their basic combined package at double the price as he would only have BT..

Let us know how you get on please as I support various people

  • milman
  • 12 days ago

I done that form for their Basic package as it always LYING by BT they did send it but never heard back for months and months, I give up in the end.

BT Home Essentials social tariff are probably the same again - form need to be send off to DWP to check.

  • adslmax
  • 12 days ago

While I'm no fan of Virgin's, its not really about competing when it comes to an essentials/social product, its about retaining and potentially obtaining customers in hard times.

Many companies have seen customers walking away for cheaper services during the past year, and many of those people have either obtained a new service agreement that's cheaper by default or in the mobile market more obvious, many have been taken into networks such as Smarty/Voxi with the lure of low pricing and additional introductory offers of said low pricing and also the flexibility to alter the service/leave..1/2

  • mlmclaren
  • 12 days ago

2/2... so instead of losing customers, they need a new approach on a market, and this is it....

As for the speed/service, if it wasn't such a ballache to bring in new tiers at Openreach level, they would have probably matched the speeds of Virgin's equivalent, but I don't think the 18/2 service ever really made it to market.

I must add though, what about ADSL customers without the option of FTTC/P?

Also, this is a good opportunity to move customers (low income) to FTTC services and perhaps migrate Basic (Phone customers) to new technologies.

  • mlmclaren
  • 12 days ago

This is yet another us & them scheme whereby those on who qualify receive endless benefits whereas those who have sensibly saved a few pounds to look after their house or themselves in their old age find they have lost out.
No doubt the rest of BT's customers are paying for this rather than their shareholders.

  • MatHal
  • 12 days ago

For those saying this is about us and them, that is a very selfish position to take.

Millions in the last year have found their financial position has changed massively and not due to anything they have done, additionally lots of those who have lost jobs in the last year were younger people who have not had decades to build savings.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 11 days ago

Many of the recent recipients of UC were on such low wages in the gig economy that it was impossible to save anything let alone have decent housing and sufficient food.
That is the disgrace. If as a BT customer I am making a contribution to help these families and their kids, they are very welcome.

  • alwall
  • 10 days ago

I assume that this is driven by the retirement of the PSTN. They will need an equivalent product delivered over IP and whilst they could have offered the 0.5/0.5 service, the cost to them of providing 40/10 is negligible and gives them a good news story.

  • NickWilsonOIIM
  • 9 days ago

Post a comment

Login Register