Social Tariffs Toolkit
Signposting residents to social tariffs

How can we start the conversation with local residents?


Identify resident touch points

The following services might provide touch points where staff or volunteers could start the conversation about broadband social tariffs:

  • Contact centre
  • Libraries
  • Customer Service points
  • Neighbourhood forums
  • Adult social care team
  • Local welfare assistance team
  • Community benefits team
  • Community engagement officers
  • Housing officers
  • Digital Champions
  • Foodbanks
  • Community centres
  • Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) groups

The short guide from Good Things Foundation, Supporting people with broadband and mobile data connectivity, might be helpful for libraries, community centres, VCS groups and others you work with.

Identify the need

It is not always easy to identify which residents could benefit from social tariffs. They may not say directly that they are struggling to afford broadband but they may offer other cues, such as telling a housing officer that they are having difficulty paying their rent. This is a sign that the resident has general affordability issues that could make paying for a broadband connection difficult.

Ofcom’s 2022 report identified the following groups as the most likely to have communications affordability (including broadband affordability) issues:

  • Unemployed and seeking work
  • In receipt of means-tested benefits
  • Earning less than £15,599 a year
  • From lower socio-economic groups
  • Have an impacting or limiting health condition
  • Have at least one child
  • Aged between 18 and 44

By listening to resident cues and being aware of these most vulnerable groups, you will be able to start identifying which residents should be made aware of social tariffs.

Explain the benefits

Once you have identified who could benefit from a social tariff, the next step is to raise the subject with them. There is no set script for this but you should keep the following in mind so that the resident receives factual and relevant information.

Benefits of being online

LOTI’s research on the challenges, barriers and motivators to becoming digitally included found that 31% of digitally excluded respondents had no interest in using the internet. Residents in this segment may need to be shown the tangible benefits that internet access can have in improving or enhancing their lives. These benefits include:

  • Having easier access to public services (e.g. paying council tax or booking GP appointments online)
  • Getting to see grandchildren on screen when they call them
  • Doing video calls to save travelling to medical appointments
  • Joining free fitness classes online
  • Taking part in online learning

Case studies collated by the Digital Inclusion Toolkit could provide some inspiration. Residents may also need access to other digital inclusion interventions, such as free devices or digital skills training.

General information

  • Social tariffs are less expensive than standard broadband tariffs.
  • The internet speeds on offer vary – they range from standard (15Mbit/s) to superfast (30 Mbit/s to 150 Mbit/s). 
  • Some social tariff packages include other services, such as free UK landline calls at evenings and weekends. 

Eligibility criteria

If a resident is in receipt of one of the following types of state benefit, they may be eligible for at least one broadband social tariff:

  • Universal Credit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Care Leavers Support

Sign-up process

There is no single standardised sign-up process but most social tariff providers require the customer to provide written proof of the benefits they receive. In addition, some providers require a credit check and a National Insurance number.

There are usually no installation fees on social tariffs but the resident should check this when signing up. For example, BT expects the customer to pay for the postage of the router and to install a working BT phone line (if there is no suitable BT line available, the standard connection charge is normally £140).

Cancellation process

Contract lengths are for varying amounts of time but none of the current social tariff providers (last checked 15 February 2022) request cancellation fees if the customer cancels at the end of their contract.

Customers will need to contact their social tariff provider if there are any changes to the benefits they receive. They will also have to return any equipment provided by their social tariff provider at the end of their contract (postage is usually paid for by the provider).

Any questions about this toolkit?

Please contact sophie.nelson@loti.london.