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Scots on universal credit could receive better broadband deals, charity says

Ofcom has estimated that just 8.3% of people who are eligible for better deals take them up across the UK (Yui Mok/PA)
Ofcom has estimated that just 8.3% of people who are eligible for better deals take them up across the UK (Yui Mok/PA)

Hundreds of thousands of Scots receiving universal credit could be missing out on cheaper broadband and mobile phone deals, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has said.

CAS, the Scottish arm of the Citizens Advice Bureau, is campaigning for better promotion of, and eligibility for, social tariffs.

A social tariff is a cheaper deal available to those who receive social security payments, including universal credit.

Ofcom has estimated that just 8.3% of people who are eligible for better deals take them up across the UK.

CAS says if the same figure was applied to Scotland, 396,231 people in Scotland could be missing out on a better broadband deal.

The charity has called on people to check their eligibility for a social tariff, with information available on Ofcom’s website.

CAS has also said that providers are not doing enough to make people aware of such deals, having found that of the 24% of customers who are aware of social tariffs, only 7% are aware due to their provider informing them.

The remaining 76% of Scots, CAS said, are not aware of social tariffs at all.

In a poll through YouGov, CAS found that 57% of consumers in Scotland support widening the eligibility criteria of social tariffs to include disabled people, and 53% of consumers said they would broaden the eligibility criteria to include those who are fleeing domestic abuse.

CAS strong communities spokesman Kyle Scott said: “Social tariffs have been a lifeline for people during the cost-of-living crisis. As the pandemic showed, access to the internet isn’t just a leisure issue, it’s an essential utility to help people live, work and learn.

“We’ve seen some growth in the number of providers offering social tariffs in recent years, which is really welcome, but social tariffs as a whole remain under-promoted and under-utilised by consumers.

“Hundreds of thousands of people could be missing out on cheaper deals.

“These deals should be extended further to other groups who would benefit from them, such as those living with disabilities or fleeing domestic violence.

“They can be a great tool in helping people access services, training or work, and could be a real benefit to people in vulnerable situations.”