Virgin Media O2 extends support for customers struggling with the cost of living

A woman's hands holding a pen and using a calculator with the Virgin Media O2 logo on top of the image
Virgin Media O2
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
21 July 2022

To help customers who may be struggling with rising costs, Virgin Media O2 has expanded its list of services that can be accessed without eating into mobile data allowances. 

It has 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 will be able to 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 already come with no data limits or caps. 

National Energy Action CEO Adam Scorer said: “The energy crisis is already making life difficult for millions and we know that come October – when the average annual energy bill could rise to over £3,000 and the cold weather arrives – it will be even harder. We are pleased O2 and Virgin Mobile customers will be able to access National Energy Action’s webchat, energy advice line, energy saving leaflets and other resources much more easily.” 

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.” 

Virgin Media O2
Virgin Media O2

As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, new research for Virgin Media O2 reveals that nearly two-thirds of low-income households say that they have worried about running out of data in the past three months. And half of those have said that they could not afford to buy more if they ran out. Ofcom estimates that data poverty is an issue for around two million households in the UK. 

Virgin Media O2 has already made commitments to help customers stay connected, and is stepping up efforts to support families and businesses struggling with their finances. 

Virgin Media was one of the first telecoms providers to launch a broadband package for those facing financial difficulty and receiving Universal Credit. Launched in November 2020, Essential Broadband costs just £15 a month for speeds of 15Mbps. The plan has no fixed-term contract length and guarantees no price changes while Universal Credit payments are being received.  

The announcement follows an industry summit at No 10 Downing Street last month where Virgin Media O2, alongside other providers, committed to a package of measures to help customers who can no longer afford their bills to stay connected. This includes treating customers who are struggling with compassion, protecting vulnerable customers, and offering them ways to stay connected. 

Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We are committed to supporting all our customers and the communities we serve through the cost-of-living crisis. We’ve already put in place comprehensive support measures for those hit hardest, set up a foodbank for mobile data to tackle digital exclusion and provide our customers with great value services every day as we continue to keep the country connected. 

“Through further expanding our zero-rated list, we’re making sure all of our customers can easily access help and advice at a time when they may need it most.” 

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.