Last updated: 6 November 2023

Next review: 6 November 2024

Read on for more information on:

  • Social tariffs: cheaper broadband and phone packages.
  • How to get a better deal if you are out of contract
  • Understanding your data usage and needs
  • Accessing public Wi-Fi safely

Social tariffs: cheaper broadband and phone packages

A social tariff is a reduced cost broadband package, offered by broadband and telecom companies to eligible benefit claimants. On average, these tariffs could be saving you up to about £200 annually. 

Some providers call them ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband. Ofcom warns that information about social tariffs on provider websites remains challenging to locate in some cases. 

Contact your internet provider today to find out if you are eligible for a discounted social tariff. 

Each company has its own list of eligible benefits for these reduced cost tariffs, but all include Universal Credit. Other benefits that could make someone eligible for reduced cost tariffs may include:

  • Pension Credit
  • Job Seekers’ Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Care Leavers’ Support.  

How a social tariff could help you

It's available to those on a variety of benefits. If you or someone in your household claims Universal Credit, you could switch to any of the tariffs available.

  • It's cheaper than a regular package. Current prices range from £10 to £20.
  • Fast, unlimited broadband. Most tariffs offer superfast broadband at speeds over 30 Mbit/s – fast enough for you to keep in touch with friends and family, stream HD films or shop online.
  • You'll pay next to nothing to get set up. If you do have to pay any setup costs, these should only be small. Your provider should tell you before you sign up.
  • It could cost nothing to switch. If your provider offers a social tariff, you can switch to it at any time, free of charge.
  • The price won't go up mid-contract. You won't pay any more than what you agreed at the start of the contract.
  • It costs nothing to leave. You won't pay a fee to leave the tariff before the end of your contract.

How to get a better deal if you are out of contract

1. Check if you're in or out of contract

When you sign up for a new service, you’re typically tied in for 12, 18 or 24 months. If you haven’t spoken to your provider in the last couple of years, the chances are you’re out of contract.

2. Find the best deals in the market

If you’re out of contract, it’s time to find out if there’s a better deal available for you. Comparison websites, such as those accredited by Ofcom, provide information on the best deals out there.

3. Ask if your current provider will match it

If you’re out of contract, you’re probably paying too much, and it’s time to speak to your provider. They might be able to match, or even beat, better deals you’ve seen elsewhere.

By spending as little as five minutes on the phone to your provider you could save hundreds of pounds.

Understanding your data usage and speed needs

Every online activity uses data. But not all activities use the same amount. Understanding how data is used, and the impact of different speeds, is important for finding the best solution.

Broadband packages vary in speed, contract length, set up charges, exit penalties and what else is included in the package (e.g. calls). To keep costs down, don’t pay for more data, faster connection speeds or more extras (‘bundles’) than necessary.

Understanding broadband or internet speeds can help to understand how long things will take and avoid frustration down the line. Warning: High speed and fibre options most marketed to consumers may be well above what your individual needs are.

Tips to make data last longer:

  • If using WiFi, speak to your provider to understand your data usage. Some providers offer online portals which help you see how much data you spend each month.
  • If using a mobile network linked to your phone, you can do a few things to minimise data spend. Try turning off automatic app updates, frequent calendar or email syncs, or background data. Most providers have an app to help you keep an eye on this.

Accessing public Wi-Fi safely

Free public WiFi is available at our Libraries across Waltham Forest.   

Free public WiFi has a valuable role in enabling people to access the internet. However, public WiFi, and using the internet in public spaces, can be – and feel – unsuitable for some things.

By taking the right precautions and being mindful of the potential dangers, you can use public Wi-Fi more safely.

More information on Staying safe online