UK telecoms agrees new cost-of-living plan for struggling customers
The UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operators have made a range of commitments to help customers with the rising cost of living crisis.
"Families across the country face increased anxiety about keeping up with bills, so today I agreed with broadband and mobile industry bosses what more can be done to support people during this difficult time," said Nadine Dorries, Digital Secretary.
The news follows a government-led summit at No 10 Downing Street led by Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries and co-chaired by David Buttress, the UK's Cost of Living Business Tsar.
Also in attendance were senior management representing much if UK telecoms market including BT Group, Openreach, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, Three, TalkTalk and Sky all who signed up to the pledges.
"Mobile operators welcome the commitments agreed upon today with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, which build on offers already in place to help the most vulnerable," added Hamish MacLeod, chief executive at Mobile UK.
Effective immediately, the newly agreed upon commitments state that:
1. All providers will their customers struggling with the cost-of-living and "treat them with compassion, understanding and as individuals"
2. All providers will support customers struggling with their bills and offer ways to keep them connected, such as "allowing them to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty or agreeing manageable payment plans".
3. All operators will continue to ensure the connectivity of their customers known to be vulnerable as a priority.
4. With the support of the Government, providers will take steps to raise awareness of low cost products to those claiming Universal Credit.
5. Lastly, mobile providers will consider more ways to help their customers, "including exploring tariffs, options to improve existing low cost offers and increasing promotion of existing deals".
Commenting on the news, Ian West, head of TMT at KPMG said “it is fantastic to see a united front on such an important issue from an array of British broadband companies and mobile operators and should serve as a blueprint for other industries that provide consumers with essential services at this difficult time."
“Unfortunately, the cost-of-living crisis isn’t going anywhere, so it will be interesting to see how telcos adjust their business models to accommodate the changes announced yesterday. For most telcos their margins are already tight and they face a tricky balancing act in the months ahead with finding innovative new ways to serve their customers in a more cost-effective manner whilst also pleasing their shareholders.”
"These commitments, along with the social tariffs that are available from many members, will hopefully help people in need at this challenging time. We encourage customers who are struggling with their bills to reach out to their broadband provider to get help," said Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Service Providers’ Association.