Cheaper Broadband

Social tariffs

Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people on certain benefits.

Visit MoneySavingExpert to find out how to get cheaper broadband and mobile deals. 

Ofcom has plenty of useful information for consumers about social tariffs.

  • If you think that you might be eligible for a social tariff, contact your provider and ask to switch to their social tariff. 
  • If your provider doesn't offer a social tariff it might be worth switching to another provider - but do check your exit fees to make sure that its worth it

Jobseekers on Universal Credit who don't have broadband already may be able to get six months' worth of free broadband from TalkTalk - find out more from MoneySavingExpert

Social tariffs - frequently asked questions

Can I switch before the end of my contract?

If your provider offers a social tariff, you can switch to it at any time, free of charge. The price won't go up mid-contract. You won't pay any more than what you agree at the start of the contract.

If you don’t want to stay with your current provider, find out if you’ll be charged an ‘exit fee’ to leave - check your contract or contact your provider. You’ll usually be charged an exit fee if you want to leave before the end of a fixed-term contract. This can be expensive, so it might be better to wait until your current contract ends. You can check if you’ll be charged an exit fee to leave your mobile contract by texting the word ‘INFO’ to 85075. It’s free to text this number. 

What will happen to my broadband speed if I switch? Will it drop?

Most social tariffs offer superfast broadband speeds of over 30Mbps – fast enough to browse online and stream TV.

Depending on household usage, the broadband speed may be slower on some social tariffs, for example when several people in a household are streaming at the same time.

Make sure when you apply for a social tariff you check with your provider your current usage and if broadband speed will be lower. Then you can decide if a social tariff is the correct decision for your household  

My home broadband isn’t unlimited, should I monitor usage?

If your broadband contract has data caps, it’s worth keeping an eye on how much you use. This is definitely true for the first couple of months until you know roughly how much you or your family uses in an average month.

Every provider that has capped broadband packages should provide you with the means to measure your data use via an online tool. Ask your provider if you don’t see one within the customer portal of its website.

Some providers may also send warnings as you approach a data cap, though this is only useful to help you avoid extra fees or restrictions at the last minute, so you should not rely on it.

What is a data cap?

A data cap is a maximum limit on the transfer of data that you are allowed each month. It applies to the amount of data that you send and receive over the network. Generally, if you exceed this limit you will be charged extra. The cap is set by the provider.

I am with Virgin Media – will I be able to switch to their social tariff by phone?

No, you will still need to go on-line to switch. However, Virgin has made it easier to take up its social tariffs, as it can now automatically check your eligibility with the Department for Work and Pensions – so you shouldn't have to provide any extra evidence of your benefits.

Here's what to do if you want to sign up: Start an online live chat with Virgin. You'll need to provide some details, such as your full name, postcode and date of birth. 

I am a pensioner – can I still get a social tariff?

All main service providers include receipt of Pension Credit as an eligibility criteria for their social tariff.

For specific deals for pensioners who don’t receive this you will need to contact your provider for potential offers.