Rising Cost of Living Crisis: Over One Million UK Residents Disconnect Broadband, Warns Charity

Avatar publsher | May 19, 2023

Cost-of-living crisis and broadband disconnection in the UK

One million individuals in the United Kingdom are switching off their broadband due to the prevailing Cost of Living Crisis, as highlighted by a charitable organization’s warning. Citizens Advice has further urged for the enhanced promotion of social tariffs, following separate findings from Ofcom that revealed a mere 5% of eligible households have taken advantage of them.

The charity’s survey discovered that internet service providers have effectively driven away customers through their pricing strategies, potentially resulting in one million people severing their broadband connections due to the financial strain of their day-to-day lives. Citizens Advice has specifically raised concerns about the detrimental impact on those receiving universal credit, as they were found to be six times more likely to discontinue their broadband services in the past year compared to individuals not receiving such benefits.

Furthermore, Ofcom’s data indicated that only 5% of households eligible for discounted social tariffs actually utilized them, indicating that more than four million households in the UK were missing out on potential savings of up to £200 per year.

This development comes in the wake of Citizens Advice’s earlier warning about the possibility of mobile and broadband prices rising by as much as 17% this year. The charity’s survey highlights the growing challenge faced by an increasing number of households, as broadband has become an essential service for various activities such as job applications, utility bill management, and accessing local council services, all of which have increasingly migrated online.

Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, expressed her concerns, stating, People are being disproportionately priced out of internet access at an alarming rate. She emphasized that social tariffs should serve as a safety net within the industry, but the current approach employed by providers to deliver and promote these tariffs is evidently failing.

She further asserted The individuals most impacted by this situation are those most likely to disconnect. The internet has now become an integral part of our lives, indispensable for managing financial obligations, accessing welfare benefits, and maintaining connections with our loved ones.

Recognizing the lackluster efforts of service providers in successfully implementing social tariffs, Dame Clare Moriarty called upon Ofcom to hold these companies accountable.

Responding to the issue, a government spokesperson disclosed that collaborative efforts with Ofcom and the industry have facilitated the introduction of a range of high-quality, low-cost broadband social tariffs into the market. These offers are available to 99% of the UK population and start at a monthly rate of £10. Presently, 19 providers have already signed up to offer these tariffs, with major providers Sky and Virgin Media among them. The government spokesperson also encouraged other providers to follow suit, while highlighting the simplified verification process facilitated by their broadband eligibility checker, which aims to improve access to social tariffs for benefit claimants. Jobcentre staff members are also actively guiding benefit claimants by providing relevant information about social broadband tariffs.

Walnut Unlimited conducted Citizens Advice’s study, which surveyed 6,000 UK adults online, including 1,215 individuals in receipt of universal credit between January 9th and February 8th. The charity ensured the data was weighted to achieve national representativeness.

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