A new survey by Citizens Advice has found that upwards of one million people have disconnected their broadband in the last year, mainly due to continued financial struggles during the cost-of-living crisis.
As prices have continued to increase on everything from food to energy, broadband bills have been no exception, and the charity has warned how this 'essential service' is 'becoming out of reach for many'.
Citizens Advice also highlighted a key finding that those on Universal Credit were over 'six times' more likely to cancel their broadband. At the same time, the charity pointed out that many of these households would be eligible for discounted social tariffs.
This has been echoed by the UK communications regulator, Ofcom, whose latest figures show that only 5% of the 4.3 million eligible households are making the most of potential annual savings of up to £200 on their broadband bills. One of the main reasons for this is an apparent lack of awareness that these tariffs exist and who is eligible for them.
More households are expected to cancel their broadband
Worryingly, Citizen Advice has also suggested that this problem could get worse, especially for those currently on Universal Credit that are still paying for a more expensive broadband package. The charity believes that these individuals are 'more than four times more likely' to start falling behind with their broadband bills.
Speaking about the situation, Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
"People are being priced out of internet access at a worrying rate. Social tariffs should be the industry’s safety net, but firms’ current approach to providing and promoting them clearly isn’t working. The people losing out as a result are the most likely to disconnect.
"The internet is now an essential part of our lives - vital to managing bills, accessing benefits and staying in touch with loved ones.
"As providers continue to drag their feet in making social tariffs a success, it’s clear that Ofcom needs to hold firms’ feet to the fire."
Who is eligible for social tariffs?
According to the official guidance from Ofcom, those who could qualify for a social tariff include people in receipt of:
Employment and Support Allowance
The regulator also states that 'some providers might include additional benefits, like Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance'. It also stresses that 'the person receiving the benefit needs to be the main person on the contract'.
How else can I bring down my broadband costs?
There are also options available for those who are looking for cheaper broadband deals but aren't eligible for social tariffs.
The first thing to do is to speak with your current provider directly to see if you can change your current deal to something more affordable. This is likely to be the most effective approach if you're still under contract with them, as if you leave your current deal early then you may end up paying a penalty.
However, if you are currently out of contract, or yours is nearing its end, you can look to switch to a different broadband provider right now. This whole process is easy. To find something cheaper, head over to our best broadband deals page, or enter your postcode into our widget below. Either option will be able to give you the top deals in your area.