Sky joins DWP scheme to help offer those on benefits accept cheaper broadband tariffs
Thousands of Sky customers could save almost £200 a year on their phone and broadband bills thanks to a new deal the company has signed with the government.
Sky is to become the first company to join a Department for Work and Pensions initiative that will help offer people claiming certain benefits cheaper broadband and mobile phone tariffs.
First announced last summer - the automatic verification scheme lets internet service providers like Sky - with claimants' permission - ask the DWP to verify their customers' benefit entitlement.
This means people do not need to actively prove they're claiming benefits when using a tariff offered to those on low incomes as they did previously. Before the new system people could be asked to confirm their entitlement as much as every month by providing regular job centre letters or screen shots of Universal Credit accounts.
Switching to a social tariff can save households up to £180 a year says the DWP.
Minister for social mobility, youth and progression Mims Davies said: "It’s positive to see a major provider, such as Sky, sign up to our scheme, making it easier for families to access cheaper broadband and mobile tariffs in difficult times, and I call on other providers to follow suit in offering this type of tariff for those in need."
While the take up of broadband social tarrifs did double last year to more than 136,000 households, ministers are keen to drive uptake further by making access to the schemes as straightforward as possible.
Anyone who is in receipt of a benefit and who thinks they might be entitled to switch to a cheaper tariff is advised to get in touch with their broadband provider to ask for more details.
Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky, UK & Europe, said: "We know how important connectivity is to our customers, which is why we are focussed on ways we can support them to say online. As well as support with bills, we also provide existing, eligible customers with a broadband and mobile social tariff, helping them stay connected for a significantly reduced cost.
"The Department for Work and Pensions eligibility tool is a useful step forward, enabling us to more easily confirm eligibility."
The benefits that the DWP’s system will be able to verify entitlement to include universal credit, pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance and income-related employment support allowance.
There are numerous social tariffs on offer for those receiving means tested benefits, says the government, and the DWP is encouraging claimants to check the services that they could have access to at cut-price rates. Other examples include help with health costs, discounted railcards, and Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women and young children.