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Vodafone and Sky launch social broadband tariffs for benefits claimants

Cheaper boradband packages, also known as social tariffs are available to 4.2 million customers on universal credit. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sky and sister company Now have launched low-cost broadband packages, known as social tariffs for UK households on low incomes as Vodafone (VOD.L) expands its social tariffs mobile plans.

The move from the telecoms giants comes after pressure from UK digital secretary Nadine Dorries and regulator Ofcom to do more to promote cheaper broadband. Social tariffs are available to 4.2 million customers on universal credit.

Vodafone said it hoped the scheme would help households hit hardest by the cost of living crisis. Its Voxi network will offer unlimited 5G data, calls and texts for £10 for up to six months to those receiving benefits.

Anyone claiming employment-based Universal Credit, jobseeker’s allowance, disability allowance, personal independent payment and employment and support allowance will be able to access it.

Those eligible do not need to sign a contract and can cancel at anytime, the scheme also does not require a credit check, with Vodafone using open banking tech from Moneyhub to complete an automated check of banking data when customers sign up.

The Voxi for Now tariff was first introduced in 2020 to help the unemployed during the pandemic.

"By enhancing Voxi for Now and extending it to anyone experiencing financial hardship, we hope to keep as many people as possible connected, both to family and friends, as well as to vital online services," said Vodafone consumer director Max Taylor.

Vodafone shares were up 0.2% to 130.96 pence in early trade on Wednesday in London.

Customers who sign up to Now's deal will pay £20 a month, and be placed on a monthly rolling contract for 36Mb/s broadband and Pay as You Use landline calls, which are chargeable. They can cancel the plan penalty-free at anytime with 31 days notice.

For those on Sky it will cost £20 a month for 18 months for 36Mb/s broadband, plus Sky Pay as You Talk landline — calls made using this are chargeable. After 18 months, users are rolled onto a standard rate but can cancel penalty-free at any point before the end of the contract.

Read more: Benefits and state pension increase outpaced by rising prices

Other operators, including BT (BT-A.L), Virgin Media, O2, G.Network, Hyperoptic and KCOM already offer the so-called social tariffs to eligible consumers claiming certain benefits.

Dorries, responding to Vodafone's announcement, said: "At a time when family budgets are under pressure from global price rises it is brilliant to see Vodafone offering support for those struggling the most.

"We’ve successfully worked with mobile and broadband companies to broker a range of social tariffs and this new offer means five million people are now able to make savings on their mobile phone bill."

She called on those eligible to "speak to their provider and see if they can save by switching".

Watch: How to save money on a low income