Starting in June, BT will slash prices on its Home Essential fibre broadband plan to just £15 per month for customers on Universal Credit and other social benefit programs. The move could help up to 4.6 million UK households.
BT’s research found that 74% of Britons would struggle to improve their financial well-being without internet access, while 79% of “financially vulnerable people” needed broadband access to maintain their household finances. The reduced tariffs, which BT says are being provided "at cost", could save eligible customers over £330 in a year – a welcome amount to those hit hardest by the pandemic.
The broadband provider offered a similar incentive in 2008 in its 'BT Basic plan' which reduced phone costs for those on Universal Credit without any income. The current offer broadens the eligibility to those who are on low incomes as well.
Here’s what you need to know about the reduced tariffs, costs, eligibility, and how to sign up.
What is BT's Home Essential broadband, and how much will it cost?
- £15 per month for 36Mbps average speed, with 700 minutes or,
- £20 per month for 67Mbps average speed, with unlimited calls
- No additional line rental costs
- No minimum term
Home Essential, BT’s entry-level broadband package, offers an average speed of 36Mbps and typically costs £27.99 per month. That's plenty for day-to-day browsing, light (non-4K) streaming, social media, and video calls.
Find out which speed is right for you in our broadband guide.
BT's reduced pricing will drop the rate to £15 per month and also bundle 700 minutes for calls, without any line rental fees. This additional phone allowance costs £7 per month separately on a 30-day pay-as-you-go contract. The new rate will save customers £239.88 in a year.
Eligible customers who require faster broadband speeds can opt for 67Mbps broadband speeds too, with unlimited calls, for £20 per month. This package effectively combines BT’s Fibre 2 broadband plan, which costs £32.99 per month, with an unlimited phone plan that costs £15 per month. Again, the price includes line rental and there isn't a minimum term. The reduced rate represents a saving of £335.88 per year.
The higher speed is more appropriate for moderate to high usage households, especially with five or more people. You might be using multiple devices such as phones, tablets and laptops all at the same time.
Keep in mind, speeds vary by location, so head over to BT to see the fastest speeds available in your area. You can also see the best broadband deals available right now.
When can you sign up for BT’s Home Essential plan on Universal Credit?
BT hasn’t yet announced a specific date, but in a statement to the press Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, suggested the plan will roll out towards the end of June.
“We want to help as many people as we can, which is why at the end of June we’ll be launching BT Home Essentials, increasing the eligibility of our social tariff to include all customers on Universal Credit” Allera said in the release.
Who is eligible for BT’s reduced broadband rates?
The new affordable pricing will be available to those:
- On Universal Credit
- Receiving Guarantee Credit on a Pension Credit
- On Jobseeker’s Allowance
- On Income Support
- On Employment and Support Allowance.
Unlike BT’s Basic plan initiative that offered jobseekers reduced telephone call rates, the new scheme also includes those who are on a low income.
If you're already using BT broadband and are eligible for the reduced rate, you should be able to switch to the new plan right away, without any additional costs.
How to sign up for BT Home Essential on Universal Credit
BT hasn’t yet released details on how to sign up for the Home Essential plans, but we expect the process to be similar to signing up for BT Basic – as BT will need to confirm your eligibility with the Department for Work and Pensions.
We’ll update this article once the process is confirmed in June, when BT launches these tariffs.
Currently, to sign up for BT Basic, you’ll need to request an application form by calling 0800 800 864 (available weekdays from 8am to 6pm). You will then need to complete and return it to the address below within 14 days. BT will provide a pre-paid envelope.
PO Box 334
The application will require your:
- Date of birth
- National Insurance Number
- Confirmation of the type of benefit you receive
Where else can I get reduced broadband rates with Universal Credit?
BT isn’t the first to offer reduced pricing for Universal Credit recipients. Virgin launched a similar tariff last November that offered 15Mbps for £15 per month. You can sign up for Virgin’s service here.
15Mbps is slower, of course. It's best suited for small households with light internet demands.
If you are a single-person household, you may prefer hot-spotting your phone and using it as a mobile router instead. Vodafone-owned Voxi launched its ‘Voxi for Now’ initiative last year, which reduces its unlimited data plan to £10 per month for job seekers for six months. The plan typically costs £35 per month. See this offer over at Voxi.