Millions of people on Universal Credit and other means tested benefits can get half-price broadband and free calls from later this month.
BT is offering two deals. For £15 a month you get “Essential Fibre”, which is fast but not the fastest, and suitable for one or two people using the internet simultaneously.
With that comes 700 minutes a month of free calls, and that package would normally cost £32.99 a month.
The alternative is £20 a month for BT’s fastest broadband (“Fibre 2”) and unlimited free calls. That would suit homes where several people use devices, and normally costs £47.99 a month. The deals, called “Home Essentials”, have no upfront fees and no minimum contract period.
People on the cheaper package who exceed 700 minutes will not be charged for the extra calls (which normally cost 21p a minute), but BT will expect them to transfer to the £20-a-month deal if they exceed it persistently.
The scheme will cover people on Universal Credit, incomerelated Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support. People over 66 will qualify if they get the “Guarantee” part of Pension Credit, and it does not matter how little of the Guarantee Credit you get – even if it is a few pence, you will qualify.
The scheme does not cover people on other benefits. BT says 4.6 million people will be entitled to Home Essentials when the scheme launches later this month. No estimate of the cost is available, but BT made a profit of £7.4 billion last year, so can well afford it.
Applications will be online, and all you’ll need to give is your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number.
You can also call BT free on 0800 800150. Meanwhile, Virgin Media offers a slower, internet-only option (“Media Essential”) for £15 a month to customers on Universal Credit – though if you apply for it, they’ll cancel any phone or TV service they supply you.
Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4. To read more of his advice, see money.radiotimes.com