BT is to offer fibre broadband at less than half price to people receiving universal credit and other state support in the UK, with more than 4 million households able to apply for the package.
People eligible for the BT Home Essentials package from June will pay £15 a month for speeds of about 36 megabits per second (Mbps) while the company’s equivalent offering for those not on universal credit costs £32.99 a month.
The average fibre deal in the UK costs about £25 a month, according to comparison website Uswitch.
The social tariff is only for those receiving universal credit, the guarantee credit element of pension credit, jobseeker’s allowance, income support, and employment and support allowance.
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.
“We want to help as many people as we can, which is why at the end of June we’ll be launching BT Home Essentials, increasing the eligibility of our social tariff to include all customers on universal credit.
“BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fibre package, helping a potential 4 million households on low income save on bills and stay connected to vital online services.”
It comes as research by the telecommunications firm found that nearly a third of Britons feel more financially vulnerable since the start of the pandemic and a quarter of those worry about being cut off if they cannot pay their bills.
Virgin Media also offers existing customers who are on universal credit speeds of about 15 Mbps for £15 a month.
James Wittams-Smith, commercial director at comparison website Usave, told the BBC: “BT’s Home Essentials is entering the market as one of the cheapest packages currently available, and certainly very good value for basic fibre.
“It’s great to see companies starting to consider ethics ahead of profits, especially in today’s climate.
“Hopefully, we’ll start to see more organisations following suit.”
In March, BT committed to investing £12bn in getting faster broadband connections to 20 million homes, including in remote rural areas, after telecoms regulator Ofcom unveiled a host of financial incentives to help achieve the government’s goal of creating “gigabit” Britain.
The government also announced the next areas to benefit from its £5bn Project Gigabit scheme to help fund the more costly provision of next-generation broadband to rural areas.
More than 1 million hard-to-reach homes and businesses in 15 areas including Cornwall, Cumbria, Tees Valley, Norfolk, Durham and the Isle of Wight were identified to benefit from the scheme, which will help cover the extra cost commercial operators will incur providing broadband to more remote locations.