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How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap

Part of the government’s plans for Universal Credit is that people wanting to claim will need to do so online. 

A potential Catch-22 scenario is if you’re not earning or have a bad credit history, there’s a very real chance that you won’t get internet access in the first place.

Most ISPs will need to perform a credit check before supplying you broadband for 12 months or however long, and if your credit report isn’t great you might not get broadband. And no broadband will mean no benefits. 

How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap
Universal Credit will be ‘digital by default,’ meaning if you’re not online, you stand to miss out on benefits

The Government’s site says: 

“We are designing Universal Credit to be digital by default to boost online access for people of working age.

Clearly where broadband access is not available we intend to make sure that appropriate alternative support is at hand for them.”

Unless you’re living in an area where broadband isn’t available, in which case the government has promised support, there are a few other options available to you.

These don’t require a credit check or for you to sign up for a long term contract, so for people looking to claim Universal Credit, these packages, deals and offers might be of interest. 

Universal Credit (also known as Pathfinder) has been trialled in parts of Greater Manchester and Cheshire. It will be progressively rolled out across the UK from October 2013 onwards.

Expect to see updates to this piece as and when new packages and services become available. 

Broadband packages for those claiming Universal Credit

How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap
How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap

BT Basic and BT Broadband

BT Basic is what it says on the tin, a very basic line rental service that you can get without having to resort to a credit check. This costs £14.85 every three months, which works out at £4.95/month.

A £4.50 call allowance is included each month with all other calls to normal UK calls charged at the rate of 11p per minute, plus a 3.2p connection fee.

While you don’t get broadband bundled with this you can pick up the entry-level BT Broadband package for £13/month (£6.50/month for the first three months) which gives you download speeds of up to 16Mbps and a 10GB monthly usage cap.

You can’t however bundle any extra call packages with BT Basic and you’ll need to have a BT line installed and working in your home. If you’ve got a previous broadband and/or calls service with another service provider, then you’ll need to switch to BT if you want BT Basic.

How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap

Direct Save Telecom

Direct Save Telecom has some very affordable broadband packages that don’t require credit checks to sign up for.

The 12 month Direct Save Telecom deal costs £2.49/month plus £9.95/month for line rental which works out £12.44/month in total.

There’s also a more flexible offer which costs £11.95/month including the same £9.95/month for line rental, or £21.99/month in total. While more expensive, there’s no 12 month obligation – you get broadband for 28 of broadband on this rolling monthly plan. Both Direct Save Telecom offers are subject to a one-off £24.95 connection fee and both include a free wireless router.

Stavros Tsolakis, Direct Save Telecom CEO said:”Direct Save Telecom prides itself on being one of the cheapest phone and broadband suppliers in the UK and as such does not discriminate against anyone. 

“We do not share any data with credit reference agencies as we see it as none of our business if people have good or bad credit, all we ask is people pay their monthly bills on time by direct debit. Therefore I would urge anyone who is struggling to get a broadband package, unemployed or otherwise, to get in touch.”

How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap

KC Home Social Access Package

For residents of Hull who can’t get a BT line, resident provider KC offers a Social Access Package, a basic line rental service which costs £5.62/month and is only available if you’re on benefits that will be covered under Universal Credit.

This doesn’t come with broadband included, but like BT Basic, it will allow you to get KC’s broadband services after speaking with one of their customer service advisors.

KC has also revealed that it is in talks with Hull City Council about providing broadband specifically for people claiming Universal Credit. At the moment, there’s nothing more concrete to be revealed but we’ll update once we know more. 

How to get broadband to claim Universal Credit, avoid the offline benefits trap

Quickline AIRFibre PAYG

Quickline’s AIRFibre PAYG is a pay as you go wireless broadband service for residents of Hull and the surrounding areas.

While AIRFibre PAYG isn’t a service tailored specifically for people on benefits, the fact that it’s not a contracr service means no credit check is required, so this could be advantageous.

A day pass for Quickline AIRFibre costs £5, while a weekly pass works out at £15. A monthly pass costs £30/month.  

Installation fees for AIRFibre equipment is £195 – not cheap, but the line-free nature of wireless broadband means that you’re exempt from paying any kind of line rental whatsoever.

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