Renfrewshire MSP Natalie Don has said more has to be done to promote broadband and phone packages under social tariffs scheme.

Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages that are designed to be affordable, supporting specific groups on low incomes.

Social tariffs are available for people claiming benefits such as Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance as well as Employment and Support Allowance and Pension Credit.

However, not every supplier supports the scheme or all benefits.

The telecoms regulator Ofcom estimates that 8.3% of people eligible for these deals take them up across the UK. If that figure was mirrored in Scotland, it would mean that nearly 400,000 people on Universal Credit in Scotland could be missing out on cheaper deals.

There is a concern that telecoms providers are not doing enough to ensure that those who would benefit from such tariffs are aware of them. Research from CAS shows that of the 24% of consumers who are aware of social tariffs, only 7% are aware because their provider had publicised it or recommended it.

On average someone switching to a social tariff could save around £200 per year.

Natalie Don MSP added: “Recent research from Ofgem and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has highlighted a low uptake of social tariffs for broadband and mobile phone packages.

“If you are on benefits, it’s worth checking out if you can qualify for a social tariff for either your broadband, mobile phone or both. Online access – whether for shopping, communicating with friends and family or dealing with benefit offices and government at all levels – is becoming an essential utility and social tariffs could be a way of ensuring those with fixed or low incomes don’t miss out on the benefits of being online.

“With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, it’s important to be aware of any deals which could help those struggling to get by. Moving to a social tariff still means you can get a decent broadband connection and, in most cases, switching to such a tariff is free, with no set up fee.

“Social Tariffs put money back into people’s pockets and could potentially save up to £200 per year. This is support that goes unclaimed simply because not enough people know about them.”

Photo Credit: Lucas / Pixabay

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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