The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

Broadband deals for low-income families: Find broadband social tariffs and cheap offers

Looking for cheap broadband? Compare prices from top providers and get a great deal

Broadband has become an essential utility, much like heating our homes. For most, our everyday activities rely on a broadband connection – but some families are struggling to afford it. Broadband social tariffs were introduced in 2022 to help those on low-income benefits to gain access to affordable broadband. 

To find out more about social tariff eligibility, which providers offer deals and their prices read our guide. Even if you’re not eligible, read on to discover how to get cheap broadband and which provider offers it. 

Plusnet – Full Fibre 145
Monthly Cost
Average speed
145 Mb
Contract term
24 months

Monthly prices are subject to increase each year on 31 March by Consumer Price Index rate of inflation + 3.9%.

Our top recommended broadband providers
Fast speeds & reliable customer service
Virgin Media
Ultrafast speeds at affordable prices
Perks for existing mobile customers
BT Broadband
The UK’s largest broadband provider

What are broadband social tariffs?

Broadband social tariffs are discounted deals offered to households who are already receiving certain benefits or financial support from the government. Broadband providers who offer this type of deal ensure the monthly cost is kept at a minimum – usually between £12 and £25 per month. 

Social tariffs are a way of offering an essential utility for an affordable price. Broadband speeds are generally the same as other deals. However, social tariff deals are usually a provider’s ‘essential’ deals – it’s unlikely superfast broadband speeds are available on social tariffs. Social tariffs also tend to come with shorter contracts and without cancellation fees or mid-contract price hikes.  

Who is eligible for broadband social tariffs?

Social tariffs are usually available for households who receive Universal Credit, Pension Credit and other benefits, such as Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s allowance and Income Support. 

However, each provider usually has their own benefits criteria that may include ones not listed above. You can check your eligibility by contacting the providers directly or find the information in our broadband social tariffs table below.  


Providers can verify your eligibility

With any social tariff, the provider will likely need to verify whether you qualify for the deal. Discovering whether you qualify was made easier thanks to a rule change in 2022 – providers can check eligibility without customers providing proof making it easier for low-income families to access affordable broadband.  


Broadband providers can now check your eligibility for a social tariff without the need to apply directly. If your provider discovers that you’re eligible, they would need your permission to switch to a social tariff.

Broadband social tariff deals for low-income families

With the continued cost-of-living crisis, many broadband providers are continuing to offer affordable broadband deals. The list of providers who offer social tariffs is growing, and many big-name providers, such as BT, Sky, Virgin Media, Vodafone and TalkTalk, all have deals aimed at low-income families. 

All of the deals come with different eligibility criteria that we have outlined in the table below. Some broadband provider’s deals do not require you to receive any benefits at all. According to Ofcom, more than 4 million UK families are eligible and are missing out on average annual savings of £144. 

Provider and tariff Price and deal Average speed Eligible households should receive one of the following How to sign up
4th Utility Social Tariff £13.99 30Mbps Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, or Employment and Support Allowance Sign up via the 4th Utility website
BT Home Essentials £15 – £23 36Mbps or 67Mbps No income, Universal Credit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Pensions Credit Apply via the BT website or in-store. Alternatively you can call BT.
Connect Fibre Basic Essentials £25 150Mbps Income Support, Pension Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Disability Benefit, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit, Care Leavers Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance Call 0808 304 9000
EE Basics £12 25Mbps Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support Call 0800 956 600
Grayshott Gigabit Connect £19 100Mbps Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit with no income, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance, Care Home residents and Lifeline, Care Leavers or Employment and Support Allowance Register via Grayshott’s website
Hyperoptic Fair Fibre £15 – £20 50Mbps – 150Mbps Attendance Allowance, Care Leavers’, Support, Housing Benefits, Personal Independence Payment, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers, Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit Call 0203 318 3209 or email
NOW Broadband Basics £20 36Mbps Pension credit, Universal credit, Income-based Employment, Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support Call 0333 759 5056
Shell Essentials £15 – £20 11Mbps or 38 Mbps Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit New customers call, 0330 175 9942. Existing customers call, 0330 094 9181
Sky Broadband Basics £20 11Mbs – 36Mbs Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income-based Employment Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support. For existing customers only Call 0333 759 3881
SMARTY Social Tariff £12 Unlimited Income-based Employment Support, Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit Via the SMARTY website
Virgin Media Essential Broadband £12.50 – £20 15Mbps – 54Mbps Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-based Employment Support Allowance Apply via Virgin Media’s website
Vodafone Essentials £12 for Fibre 1 Essentials or £20 or Fibre 2 Essentials 38Mbps or 73Mbps Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Reduced Earnings, Allowance, Disability Allowance Register via Vodafone’s website. Use the postcode checker to verify eligibility. If eligible, Vodafone will call you
VOXI for NOW £10 Unlimited Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance, Personal Independence Payment Via VOXI website
YouFibre Social Tariff £15 50Mbps Income Support, Pension Credit, Income-related Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit Call 0800 270 0100

Can I get free broadband?

No broadband providers in the UK offer free broadband, but jobseekers who receive Universal Credit might be eligible for six months of free broadband from TalkTalk. The provider launched a national scheme with the Department of Work and Pensions, so those who meet the eligibility criteria may be offered a fibre broadband deal with speeds up to 38Mbps. The deal lasts for six months, and it comes with no obligation to carry on the deal beyond the six months free plan.  


Free broadband installation for low-income families

Openreach, owned by BT Group, has launched a free broadband installation programme for families who receive Universal Credit with no other income. Eligible families can save up to £92 on installation charges for Openreach broadband charges. 


Which providers use the Openreach network? 

BT, Sky, and TalkTalk.


How does it work? 

Your chosen broadband provider from the above list can choose to pass on savings by removing the upfront cost or lowering the cost of the monthly bill for the duration of your broadband contract. 


How much can you save? 

Up to £92 on installation charges.   

How to get cheap broadband if you don’t qualify for a social tariff

For those who don’t qualify for a social tariff, some providers still offer low-cost deals – for instance, the Community Fibre Essential deal is £12.50 per month regardless of your income status.  

Cheap broadband deals usually offer a more affordable monthly fee, but usually come with slower broadband speeds. If you’re looking for a cheap broadband provider TalkTalk, and Now Broadband offer affordable deals.

Frequently asked questions about broadband for low-income families

The best thing you can do is to make your provider aware of your current situation. Some providers have schemes to help families who are struggling with the costs of broadband. By speaking to your provider you may be able to lower your monthly fee or move to a cheaper deal. Ofcom says it has asked providers to allow a sufficient amount of time for customers to seek help before commencing debt collection or disconnecting services.

Yes, it is still possible to get a broadband deal with a bad credit history. The checks carried out by your broadband provider are not overly strict, they are unlikely to check your credit score. If you are concerned, you could choose a provider that doesn’t check your credit at all, such as Plusnet and Now Broadband.

Broadband social tariffs are a great way to keep costs to a minimum. However, most social tariffs do offer slower broadband speeds than the more premium packages. This isn’t to say they’re not as good. Slower broadband speeds could hinder you if your internet usage is heavy or you have multiple devices connecting simultaneously.

Social tariff contract lengths vary between providers. Most broadband social tariffs last for six months and usually come without a cancellation fee to allow switching or cancellation at any time. Some social tariffs are 12-month contracts, but will usually still come without cancellation fees.


Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.

Amy Reeves


Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.