Millions could be missing £250 a year saving as many broadband providers are failing to promote social tariffs, Which? finds

Millions of the most financially vulnerable could be missing out on hundreds of pounds a year because many providers are not advertising cheaper social tariffs on their social media regularly or when customers sign up for services, Which? has found. 

Which? research found that those customers who are eligible for a social tariff could save an average of £250.32 per year – £20.86 a month – by switching from their current broadband deal to the cheapest social tariff.

Eligible customers of some providers could make even bigger savings. The average Hyperoptic customer could save £344.16 annually by switching to the firm’s cheapest social tariff, while the average Virgin Media customer would save £321.60 and BT customers could save £284.52.

However, part of the reason Hyperoptic and Virgin Media customers have the largest potential savings is that the providers offer some of the fastest speed connections on their standard tariffs, while they also offer some of the cheapest social tariffs available.

NOW Broadband and Sky customers stand to make smaller savings of £128.16 and £224.04 respectively.

Social tariffs are special discounted deals available for certain low-income customers. However, many broadband customers are unaware they could be eligible.

In February 2022, Ofcom warned that only 55,000 out of an estimated 4.2 million eligible households were signed up to social tariffs. It called on providers to do a better job of promoting social tariffs, making information about them clear and the sign up process as easy as possible for eligible customers. It has also urged providers that do not currently offer a social tariff to do so.

For the month of May 2022, Which? checked the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for the seven broadband providers that offer social tariffs – BT, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM, NOW Broadband, Sky and Virgin Media – to see if they were advertising the availability of social tariffs on their social media accounts.

The consumer champion found that only one provider had made any mentions of social tariffs on their social media in the month of May. KCOM had two tweets and one Facebook post which mentioned social tariffs.

Which? also looked at whether any of the providers asked customers if they receive any benefits, such as universal credit, when they were signing up for a new deal – which is not a social tariff – and found that none did so up until check out during the sign up process.

Which? believes that during an unrelenting cost of living crisis, consumers should be aware of and easily able to access the best value deal.

Four months on from Ofcom’s warning, broadband providers must up their game and do a better job of promoting social tariffs to their customers, including on their social media accounts and through other channels.

Given that telecoms services are essential, providers should ensure they support their customers throughout the cost of living crisis, particularly those who are financially vulnerable, so that they can remain connected and receive any discounts they are eligible for.

Which? also believes that to help cut bills during the cost of living crisis, the government should reduce the amount of VAT paid on telecoms from twenty per cent to five per cent. The consumer champion estimates that a reduction in VAT could save those on a standard broadband tariff up to £57 a year, and those on a social tariff up to £37.50 a year.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: 

“It is unacceptable that broadband providers aren’t doing more to make customers aware of social tariffs – meaning millions of households who may be struggling to make ends meet could be missing out on hundreds of pounds of savings.

“During a cost of living crisis, broadband providers must support the most financially vulnerable by clearly promoting discounted deals and making it easy for eligible customers to switch over to social tariffs.”


Notes to Editors

Which? checked the posts broadband providers had made – not including replies – on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter between 1st and 31st May 2022.

On 5th May 2022, the consumer champion also checked the information taken by providers up to the point of check out to explore what providers ask new customers and found that none asks people whether they receive benefits such as Universal Credit.

The figures on the average amount eligible consumers could save are taken from Which?’s nationally representative survey of 3,755 broadband customers in the UK in December 2021/January 2022. Fieldwork was carried out online by Deltapoll.

For this figure, Which? compared the average amount survey respondents paid for their broadband (£35.86 per month) with the cheapest widely available social tariff which is BT’s Home Essentials (£15 per month). The potential saving is £20.86 per month or £250.32 per year.

Table of savings available by provider


Average amount paid

Cheapest social tariff offered

Potential monthly saving with the same provider

Potential annual saving

BT (910)





Hyperoptic (53)





NOW Broadband (84)





Sky (456)





Virgin Media (521)





Which? surveyed 3,903 broadband customers in the UK in December 2021/January 2022. Fieldwork was carried out online by Deltapoll and data includes a nationally representative sample plus a provider boost. Which? has only included providers which have a sample size of 50 or higher, sample sizes are included in brackets. (KCOM and G.Network’s sample sizes were below 50 so they  have not been included).

Social tariffs available


Price per month

Average speed


BT Home Essentials



Various benefits (in and out of work)

BT Home Essentials 2



Various benefits (in and out of work)

Country Connect Social Tariff



Various benefits (in and out of work)

G.Network Essential Fibre Broadband



Various benefits (in and out of work)

Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 50



Various benefits (in and out of work)

Hyperoptic Fair Fibre 150



Various benefits (in and out of work)

KCOM Full Fibre Flex



Various benefits (in and out of work)

Now Broadband Basics



Universal Credit or Pension Credit

Sky Broadband Basics



Sky customers receiving Universal Credit or Pension Credit

Virgin Media Essential Broadband


15 Mbps

Universal Credit

Right of replies 

A G.Network spokesperson said: “We know that the cost of living is at the forefront of Londoners’ minds right now. That’s why we were proud to launch Essential Fibre earlier this year, and since then we have strived to promote the tariff to those who might benefit from it. We recognise that there is always more that can be done to raise awareness of social tariffs and will continue to play our part.”

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “As one of the first providers in the UK to launch an affordable social tariff for those facing financial difficulty, we’re committed to supporting all our customers and are actively promoting our Essential Broadband package which has been included in more than 100 news articles throughout May alone.

“Uptake of our social tariffs has significantly increased year on year, and we’ll continue to work with Government and industry stakeholders to build on the support available to the lowest income households.”

BT said: “We are the only provider to invest in an instant eligibility check immediately with the DWP. We discuss Home Essentials with customers during conversations either online, over the phone or in-store, so we can check whether they qualify in real-time.

“We are committed to supporting customers who are worried about their finances and who need extra help. We seek to understand our customers’ needs and to offer Home Essentials to eligible customers who are struggling financially. We urge anyone who qualifies for our at-cost, social tariff to get in touch, whether that’s on the phone, online or in one of our stores.”

Charles Davies, Managing Director at Hyperoptic, said: “Hyperoptic is committed to ensuring that customers eligible for its social tariff are aware of it so they can benefit from discounted rates and access vital broadband services at the same high speeds as our standard packages. Its social tariffs are clearly advertised on its website and it proactively works with local authorities, housing associations and digital inclusion partners to ensure that its social tariff is communicated effectively via bespoke leafletting and targeted marketing.

“This targeted approach is key in making sure that the people who would most benefit from the tariff are aware, particularly those whose circumstances mean that they may not see information online. That said, we’re always keen to improve the ways we reach people, so we’re increasing what we post about Fair Fibre on our social media channels.”

NOW Broadband declined to comment. 

Sky declined to comment. 

Tim Shaw, KCOM Chief Executive, said: “With so many people struggling with the cost of living right now we’re determined to help our customers keep control of their household budgets. That’s why we’ve made our Flex social tariff cheaper and far easier to apply for online using the latest Open Banking technology. By reducing the price of our tariff we’re also reinforcing our commitment to making sure everyone has access to high quality, reliable broadband and the things that matter most to them.”

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

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