Free broadband for people on Universal Credit – can you apply?
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Unemployed jobseekers will be given access to free internet for six months following a collaboration between the DWP and telecoms provider TalkTalk to help remove digital barriers for the most disadvantaged in society. More than 1.5million people are currently looking for work according to the latest government figures – the highest since 2015 as the country still gets to grips with its recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new scheme giving people six months’ access to free broadband has been launched in a bid to help the 1.5 million jobseekers on Universal Credit get back into work.
This initiative aims to tackle digital exclusion and remove barriers, helping those who are disadvantaged get back into work.
People with no income will receive a free six month voucher for TalkTalk’s Fibre35 broadband so they can look for work online and prepare for job interviews.
Jobseekers will not have to keep the service after six months as they won’t be entered into a contract.
Who is eligible for free broadband under the DWP scheme?
The DWP is responsible for identifying and referring participants based on their need.
Only people on Universal Credit who have zero income will be able to get broadband installed for free and six months’ uncapped usage.
Not only could it save them up to £92, but it could also help them get back to work or start a course which could lead to employment further down the line.
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However, the scheme has been criticised by some who think it won’t go far enough to help the poorest in society.
Two million households struggle to afford internet access, media regulator Ofcom has said.
It noted that some companies have already introduced low-cost tariffs for people on benefits.
However take up has been low, with just one percent of people of benefits using these offers to get online.
To get set up with free broadband from TalkTalk, people will need to speak to their work coach and ask about the Flexible Support Fund.
The provider sends codes to the DWP which are then passed onto eligible customers so they can use them to pre-pay the service from the fund.
The customers then call TalkTalk directly using a dedicated number to redeem and get set up.
This is the first time jobseekers have been offered completely free broadband by a British telecoms provider.
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BT already offers fibre broadband at less than half price to people receiving certain benefits.
More than four million households can apply for the package which costs £15 a month for speeds of up to 36 megabits per second (Mbps).
The discount is available to people claiming Universal Credit, the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance.
Virgin Media also offers existing customers who are on Universal Credit speeds of about 15 Mbps for £15 a month.
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