Millions of the most financially vulnerable Brits could be missing out on average savings of £250 a year on their broadband because many providers are failing to advertise cheaper social tariffs on their social media regularly or when customers sign up for services, consumer group Which? has found.
Social tariffs are special discounted deals that are available to certain customers on low incomes. However, many consumers are unaware they could be eligible.
An estimated 4.2 million households are eligible for social tariffs in the UK.
Eligible customers could save an average of £250.32 per year, or £20.86 a month, by switching from their current broadband deal to the cheapest social tariff, according to Which? research.
Hyperoptic customers could make the biggest savings of an average £344.16 annually by switching to the firm’s cheapest social tariff.
The average Virgin Media customer would save £321.60 and BT customers could save £284.52.
Sky customers stand to save £224.04 while those with NOW Broadband could save £128.16.
However, in February 2022, Ofcom warned that only 55,000 households were signed up for social tariffs and called on providers to do more to inform customers and make the sign up process as easy as possible.
Ofcom has also urged providers to begin offering a social tariff of they do not already do so.
Throughout May, Which? looked at the Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Instagram accounts for the seven broadband providers that offer social tariffs — BT (BT-A.L), G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM, NOW Broadband, Sky and Virgin Media — to check whether they were advertising their social tariffs.
Only one provider mentioned social tariffs on their social media during the period — KCOM made two tweets and one Facebook post that referred to social tariffs.
Which? also found that none of the providers asked customers if they receive any benefits, such as universal credit, when they were signing up for a new deal until they came to the check out.
The consumer group is calling on broadband providers to "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" during an intensifying cost of living crisis.
"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? said.
It is also calling on the government to reduce the amount of VAT paid on telecoms from 20% to 5%. This 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, Which? found.
“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," said Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy.
“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.”