BT at cost broadband for people on Universal Credit

Shows a sign outside a shop that reads Internet with an @ symbolPeople receiving Universal Credit can get cheaper access to fibre broadband from June through BT’s Home Essentials broadband service. 

The service will be available exclusively to people on Universal Credit and other means-tested benefits.

Those who are eligible for Home Essentials will be able to access broadband with download speeds of 36Mbps and 700 minutes of calls for £15 per month, which BT claims are a saving of up to £240 per year.

Who might benefit from means-tested broadband?

Image shows a 19 year old woman sitting on a bed with a laptop and a dogAccording to government statistics, over 6 million people claim universal credit as of January 2021, a significant increase of 98% since March 2020. 

Disabled people are less likely to be in work than non-disabled people and so more likely to be eligible for BT Essentials. Disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people, according to Scope. 

Scope research also reveals the cost of living for disabled people is on average £583 a month more if you're disabled.

Over half of disabled people aged 16 to 64 years (52.1%) in the UK were in employment compared with around 8 in 10 (81.3%) for non-disabled people (July - Sept 2020); disabled people with autism were among those disabled people with the lowest employment rate, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Broadband access more important than ever

BT research claims that broadband access is important to the financial well-being of Brits. Three quarters (74%) of Brits would not find it easy to improve their financial situation without connectivity. The majority (79%) of financially vulnerable people rely on broadband connectivity to manage household finances.  

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said, “Fast, reliable connectivity has never been as important as it is today, with millions of people relying upon our networks to get back on their feet after the pandemic.”

During the pandemic, broadband access has also been vital to keeping people in touch. 

Pre-pandemic, a significantly higher number of disabled people over 16 felt lonely compared with non-disabled people. The proportion of disabled people who reported feeling lonely often or always was almost four times that of non-disabled people. 

How to use technology to reduce social isolation  

Many initiatives during and prompted by Covid-19 have focussed on supplying tech equipment to people in need. One notable example is the DCMS scheme designed to assist people with Learning Disabilities. 

AbilityNet is providing FREE support to those benefitting from the scheme. Examples include Jennyruth workshops and a library outreach service in Penrith

We’ve also helped support a free tablet roll-out for people with mental health issues in partnership with the NHS and Tech4Good winner Jangala to provide low-cost connectivity.

Our webinar on tackling loneliness also featured organisations helping to tackle loneliness by providing free access to technology.

How AbilityNet can Help