Virgin Media O2 extends support for customers struggling with the cost of living
9.7 million people are now eligible to benefit from cut-price broadband from Virgin Media O2 as it extends support for customers who may be struggling with rising costs.
Virgin Media O2 has switched on automatic verification that means claimants do not have to repeatedly prove their benefit status to access discounted social tariffs, making it faster and easier to sign up. People in the UK receiving Income-based Employment Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit or Universal Credit are now eligible for the provider’s social tariffs, Essential Broadband and Essential Broadband Plus.
The price of basic Essential Broadband, which was initially available to just those receiving Universal Credit, was cut by 16% to £12.50 per month last year for all new and existing customers, making it one of the cheapest packages in the market. Virgin Media O2 later released a new, faster tier called ‘Essential Broadband Plus’ that delivers speeds of 54Mbps for just £20 per month. All Essential Broadband products come with no fixed-term contract and no activation fees.
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “As the first major provider to introduce a social tariff, and the only operator to have cut the price of this, we have a history of stepping up in tough times. Connectivity remains essential in so many ways, so we are expanding the eligibility criteria for our social tariffs to make it easier and faster for millions more low-income families to access this support during the cost-of-living crisis.”
The mobile and broadband provider also expanded its list of services that can be accessed without eating into mobile data allowance last year. In October 2022 it added fuel poverty, debt advice and financial support organisations as part of a wide range of measures targeted at those struggling most in the cost-of-living crisis.
Customers of both O2 and Virgin Mobile can access the National Debtline, Business Debtline, Turn2us, Debt Advice Foundation and National Energy Action without using any of their mobile data allowance. These sites join existing zero-rated websites such as Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service and debt charity Step Change, all of which provide a range of impartial and trusted advice to individuals struggling with debt or to manage their finances. Virgin Media’s broadband packages, including Essential Broadband, already come with no data limits or caps.
Jane Tully, director of external affairs and partnerships at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “At a time when households are increasingly worried about their finances as a result of rising costs, ensuring people are able to receive the free, independent advice they need is more important than ever. This is a positive step and should make access to a range of support websites even easier.”
Essential Broadband Plus customers will also have the option to add Virgin Media O2’s latest entertainment product, Stream, for an upfront, one-off fee of just £20 – saving 42% on the normal £35 charge. Stream plugs into any TV and seamlessly combines live TV, on-demand apps, popular streaming subscriptions and must-watch movies all in one place. Any customer taking Stream will receive 10% credit back on subscriptions they add to the service via their Virgin Media bill, giving customers a more affordable way to subscribe to streaming services.
Virgin Media O2 is also committed to supporting communities around the country and tackling data poverty by connecting one million digitally excluded people by 2025. The operator created the first ever National Databank to tackle data poverty by providing free mobile data to people in need. Gifted to the Good Things Foundation to run through its network of 5,000 community organisations, the National Databank launched with 7.5 million GB of mobile data donated by Virgin Media O2 to help more than 200,000 people get connected by the end of 2023.
Visit Virgin Media O2 to find out more.