Three is launching a new social tariff aimed at helping mobile phone users struggling with the rising cost of living.
The tariff offers unlimited calls, texts and data for just £12 a month and is available through the mobile operator’s sub-brand Smarty. The cheap deal is being offered as a flexible one-month rolling plan which users can change or cancel at any time.
Anyone who receives a range of benefits will be eligible for the social tariff, including those receiving Income-based Employment support, Income-based Jobseekers’ Support, Income Support, Pension Credit, or Universal Credit. Three said it estimates that more than 4.2 million households across the UK could benefit from the new deal.
Elaine Carey, Three’s chief commercial officer said: “With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to put financial pressure on many of our customers, Three is committed to playing its part in the solution.
“More than ever, people are in need of support and that should include access to affordable connectivity without restrictions. I am delighted that we are launching this tariff today, offering low-cost access to our network for the customers who need it most.”
The launch comes after several other telecoms firms have also introduced similar social tariffs aimed at customers indeed of cost of living support. Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits, and are often called ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband by providers. They are delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at a lower price.
Vodafone launched a new social tariff to help struggling customers cut the cost of their broadband bill last year for households on benefits, including Universal Credit, for £12 a month for 12 months.
Vodafone Essentials Broadband works out at £144 a year and means customers can access the company’s Fibre 1 or Full Fibre 1 deal, with an average speed of 38Mbps, for less.
Sky also offers a social tariff to customers claiming one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
- Income-based Employment Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
The ‘Broadband Basics’ deal costs £20 a month for 18 months and includes Sky Broadband Superfast 35 with an average download speed of 36Mb/s, or if fibre isn’t available where you live, Sky Broadband Essential Plus with average download speeds of 11Mb/s.
The UK government has previously called on businesses to do more to promote such deals after Ofcom data showed that very few customers who were eligible had actually signed up, despite such offers being widely available.
Three has also donated data to a digital charity to be distributed to those in need, and zero-rated seven websites offering financial advice so that customers can access help free of charge.
Catherine Hiley, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, said: “It’s never been more important that the most financially vulnerable stay connected to their mobile service. Without this, they risk losing contact with vital support networks and, for jobseekers, being deprived of an important tool that can help them find work.
“Social tariffs offer a decent service at a lower cost to anyone who receives benefits – but there is still a lack of awareness that they exist. Today’s announcement by Three and sub-brand SMARTY to offer a SIM only social tariff for unlimited calls, texts and data for £12 a month will help spread the word – and also encourage more providers to follow suit.
“If you’re claiming one or more government benefits, you could also be entitled to switch to a social broadband tariff, which could reduce your telecom bills by hundreds of pounds a year on average.
“Remember, if you are currently out of contract on a pay-monthly mobile plan, switching to a SIM only deal is likely to be a significant cost saver, with some deals available from just £3.95 a month.”
If you receive government benefits, you could qualify for a discounted price plan. More information is available at ofcom.org.uk.