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Millions of the most financially vulnerable could be missing out on hundreds of pounds a year because many providers are not advertising cheaper social tariffs on their social media regularly or when customers sign up for services, Which? has found.

Which? research found that those customers who are eligible for a social tariff could save an average of £250.32 per year - £20.86 a month - by switching from their current broadband deal to the cheapest social tariff.

Eligible customers of some providers could make even bigger savings. The average Hyperoptic customer could save £344.16 annually by switching to the firm’s cheapest social tariff, while the average Virgin Media customer would save £321.60 and BT customers could save £284.52.

However, part of the reason Hyperoptic and Virgin Media customers have the largest potential savings is that the providers offer some of the fastest speed connections on their standard tariffs, while they also offer some of the cheapest social tariffs available.

Now Broadband and Sky customers stand to make smaller savings of £128.16 and £224.04 respectively.

Social tariffs are special discounted deals available for certain low-income customers. However, many broadband customers are unaware they could be eligible.

In February 2022, Ofcom warned that only 55,000 out of an estimated 4.2 million eligible households were signed up to social tariffs. It called on providers to do a better job of promoting social tariffs, making information about them clear and the sign up process as easy as possible for eligible customers. It has also urged providers that do not currently offer a social tariff to do so.

For the month of May 2022, Which? checked the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for the seven broadband providers that offer social tariffs - BT, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM, NOW Broadband, Sky and Virgin Media - to see if they were advertising the availability of social tariffs on their social media accounts.

The consumer champion found that only one provider had made any mentions of social tariffs on their social media in the month of May. KCOM had two tweets and one Facebook post which mentioned social tariffs.

Which? also looked at whether any of the providers asked customers if they receive any benefits, such as universal credit, when they were signing up for a new deal - which is not a social tariff - and found that none did so up until check out during the sign up process.

During an unrelenting cost of living crisis, consumers should be aware of and easily able to access the best value deal.

Four months on from Ofcom’s warning, broadband providers must up their game and do a better job of promoting social tariffs to their customers, including on their social media accounts and through other channels.

Given that telecoms services are essential, providers should ensure they support their customers throughout the cost of living crisis, particularly those who are financially vulnerable, so that they can remain connected and receive any discounts for which they are eligible.


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