Best social tariff broadband deals

Social tariff broadband plans offer discounted rates to help low-income households receive certain government benefits and stay connected. These affordable packages provide lower monthly prices and may include additional perks like free installation. A social tariff broadband plan could be a great option if you're receiving government benefits and struggling to keep up with broadband payments because of your financial situation. Here are the best UK social tariff broadband deals for 2024.

What is a social tariff broadband?

Social tariffs are discounts or financial supports typically exclusive to low-income earners. Although not required by law, most mainstream UK broadband providers offer some form of a social tariff to make broadband more affordable.

Besides discounts, broadband social tariffs often have better subscription terms, including free cancellations and no mid-contract price increases. However, this isn’t always true because these social tariffs aren’t subject to regulation.

If you’ve found a social tariff broadband deal you want, you must apply and submit extra documents to prove your eligibility.

Who is eligible for broadband social tariff?

For the most part, low-income earners are eligible for broadband social tariffs, but every broadband provider is different, and so are the criteria you need to meet to claim the deal.

In the UK, most providers give social tariff discounts to people claiming government benefits. So, if you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payments (PIP), or another means-tested government benefit – you’re probably eligible.

However, some broadband social tariffs have other specific requirements. The best way to know your eligibility for a broadband social tariff is to check with your desired provider.

Broadband social tariffs available in the UK

BTHome Essentials (No Income)36Mbps£15.0012 months
BTHome Essentials36Mbps£20.0012 months
BTHome Essentials 267Mbps£23.0012 months
Virgin MediaEssential Broadband15Mbps£12.5030 days
Virgin MediaEssential Broadband Plus54Mbps£20.0030 days
SkyBroadband Basics36Mbps£20.0018 months
VodafoneFibre 2 Essentials73Mbps£20.0012 months
TalkTalkFibre 35 (Job Seekers, in partnership with DWP)38 MbpsFree for six months, then the regular priceSix months free, then ongoing
KCOMFull Fibre Flex30Mbps£14.99Only Hull & East Yorkshire
NOW BroadbandBroadband Basics36Mbps£20.00Unspecified
Community FibreEssential 35Mbps35Mbps£12.50Unlimited
HyperopticFair Fibre 5050Mbps£15.00Unspecified
HyperopticFair Fibre 150150Mbps£20.00Unspecified
Wessex InternetFibre Social Tariff35Mbps£17.50Unspecified
Connect FibreBasic Essentials50Mbps£20.00Unspecified

BT social tariff deals

BT offers three social tariff options: Home Essentials (36Mbps, £15/month), Home Essentials Fibre Essential (36Mbps, £20/month), and Home Essentials Fibre 2 (67Mbps, £23/month). All plans require a 12-month contract and are available to those receiving Universal Credit and other means-tested benefits.

Virgin Media social tariff deals

Virgin Media has two social tariffs: Essential Broadband (15Mbps, £12.50/month) and Essential Broadband Plus (54Mbps, £20/month). Both are on a 30-day rolling contract for Universal Credit claimants.

Sky Broadband social tariff deals

Sky's Broadband Basics plan offers 36Mbps for £20/month on an 18-month contract. It is available to existing Sky Broadband customers receiving Pension Credit or Universal Credit.

Vodafone social tariff deals

Vodafone has two social tariff options: Fibre 1 Essentials (38Mbps, £12/month) and Fibre 2 Essentials (73Mbps, £20/month). Both are on 12-month contracts and are available to those receiving disability benefits, pension credit, and other means-tested support.

TalkTalk social tariff deals

TalkTalk's social tariff, developed in collaboration with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), can provide Universal Credit claimants with an assigned JobCentre Plus work coach a no-contract, six-month free Fibre 35 broadband service (38Mbps).

Eligibility and Application Process:

To be eligible, the person must successfully claim Universal Credit benefits and have a work coach assigned to them through their local JobCentre Plus office.

When enrolling for Universal Credit, the work coach should automatically send the claimant a DWP referral code to access the TalkTalk free broadband offer. No separate application is required.

Once the claimant receives the DWP referral code, they simply need to contact TalkTalk using a dedicated number and provide the code.

TalkTalk will then set up six months of free Fibre 35 broadband for the claimant without requiring a contract, credit check, or upfront costs.

After six months, the claimant can continue with a paid TalkTalk contract or cancel the service with no additional fees.

TalkTalk is exploring options to adapt the scheme for other digitally excluded communities, working with schools and councils to apply the voucher scheme more broadly.

NOW Broadband social tariff deals

NOW Broadband Basics gives 36Mbps for £20/month on a rolling monthly contract. It is available to those receiving Universal Credit, Pension Credit, and other means-tested benefits.

Community Fibre social tariff deals

Community Fibre offers the Essential 35Mbps plan for £12.50 per month.

Hyperoptic social tariff deals

Hyperoptic has two social tariff plans: Fair Fibre 50 (50Mbps, £15/month) and Fair Fibre 150 (150Mbps, £20/month).

Wessex Internet social tariff deals

Wessex Internet offers a Fibre Social Tariff plan providing 35Mbps for £17.50 per month.

Connect Fibre social tariff deals

Connect Fibre has a Basic Essentials social tariff plan that delivers 50Mbps for £20 per month.

KCOM social tariff deals

KCOM's Full Fibre Flex social tariff plan is only available in the Hull and East Yorkshire area (HU1-HU17 postcodes). It offers 30Mbps for £14.99 per month.

Can you get social tariff broadband where you live?

To see if you can get social tariff broadband deals in your area, you'll need to check based on your specific circumstances. Take a look at our postcode checker to see what options are available. The major broadband providers like BT, Virgin Media, and Sky offer reduced social rates, but eligibility criteria and availability depend on your postcode and the benefits you get. View our comparison table for an overview, then contact the internet service providers directly about their social tariff eligibility requirements.

How can you get social tariff broadband?

There are a few steps you need to take to get social tariff broadband:

  1. Pick a social tariff offer. Select one of our deals above and go directly to the provider's website.
  2. Check eligibility. Find the deal requirements on the provider’s social tariff information page. Usually, you must be receiving a government benefit such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or Jobseeker’s allowance.
  3. Apply. Register online or call to apply, depending on the provider. Prepare to provide more information than you normally need for broadband, like earnings reports, proof of registration with Jobcentre Plus, or proof of receipt of your government benefits.
  4. Wait. Most broadband providers call you within five working days to let you know if you're accepted.

How do I apply for a social tariff?

First, you must confirm that you meet the provider’s eligibility requirements. These typically include receiving government benefits like Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or Income Support.

Next, compare the social tariff plans offered by a range of providers to find the best fit for your needs and budget. Consider speed, data allowances, contract length, and additional fees.

When you've found a suitable plan, gather the documents to prove your eligibility, such as a recent benefits statement or award letter.

Contact your chosen provider through their dedicated social tariff web page or customer service line to start the application process. Provide your personal information, address, and eligibility documentation as requested.

Follow the provider's instructions to complete the application. If they approve you, they will either change your billing directly or – if you are a new customer – work with you to schedule your new broadband service installation.

If your current provider doesn't offer a suitable social tariff plan, consider switching to a new provider. Just be mindful of early termination fees or contract obligations before you make the change.

Is there cheaper broadband for pensioners?

Yes, there are cheaper broadband options available for pensioners in the UK. Some providers offer specific discounts or packages tailored to the needs of elderly or retired customers. For example, BT offers a Home Essentials plan for those receiving Pension Credit, providing fibre broadband at a reduced monthly cost. It's worth comparing different providers and plans to find the best broadband deals for pensioners.

Can I get free broadband?

There is one time-limited, completely free broadband option – TalkTalk’s no-contract, six-month free fibre broadband plan for job seekers on Universal Credit. This plan provides 38Mbps speeds without any upfront costs or credit checks. After the initial six months, customers can choose to continue with a paid plan or cancel without penalties.

Some local councils and housing associations also offer free or heavily discounted broadband for residents in certain areas or properties. It's worth checking with your local authorities to see if such schemes are available in your community.

Some public spaces like libraries, community centres, and cafes also provide free Wi-Fi access, which can be a helpful option if you only need internet access occasionally or for short periods.

What are social tariff broadband alternatives?

While social tariff broadband plans offer discounted rates for eligible low-income households, several alternatives are available for those who don't qualify or need more flexibility.

  1. Cheap broadband deals. Many providers offer affordable broadband plans with competitive speeds and prices. These deals are available to all customers, regardless of income or benefit status. Compare plans from different providers to find the best value for your needs and budget.
  2. Mobile broadband. If you have a smartphone with a generous data allowance, you can "tether" or use your mobile phone as a portable hotspot to connect your other devices to the internet. This method can be an excellent substitute for fixed broadband, especially if you have an unlimited data plan. However, not all mobile contracts allow tethering, and data speeds may be slower than fixed broadband.
  3. Public Wi-Fi hotspots. Many public spaces, such as libraries, cafes, parks, and shopping centres, offer free Wi-Fi access. These hotspots can be a convenient option for those needing internet access occasionally or while on the go, providing a reliable connection outside the home. Some cities, like London and Manchester, have extensive public Wi-Fi networks covering large areas.
  4. Community internet schemes. Some local councils, housing associations, or community organisations offer low-cost or entirely free internet access to local residents. Check with your local authorities to see if any such initiatives are available in your community.
  5. Pay-as-you-go broadband. Some providers offer short-term, pay-as-you-go broadband plans without long-term contracts. These can be a good option for anyone with temporary or sporadic internet needs, such as students or seasonal workers, providing flexibility and affordability when internet usage is inconsistent.

While these alternatives may not suit everyone, they can provide cost-effective solutions for those unable to access social tariff broadband or needing more flexible options.