A recent survey from the UK's Citizens Advice shows one in six households struggle to afford broadband during the UK lockdown — cutting off key services for those with low income.
Citizens Advice surveyed 1,646 people who said they had broadband at home. However, 275 acknowledged they had struggled to pay their broadband bills between March 2020 and January 2021.
Citizens Advice believes an estimated 2.3 million people had fallen behind on their broadband bill by the end of 2020, locking people out of "key services." Who's at fault? Broadband providers.
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According to the charity, only three out of the 13 largest internet providers are offering affordable tariffs for those with a low-income wage. With the UK lockdown making job availability difficult, the amount of people in need continues to grow.
Communications regulator Ofcom has provided insight into the pricing of broadband, finding that households were paying an average of £37 a month for landline and broadband. In terms of the average low-income budget, it would take four times the proportion to pay this compared to an average household.
With lockdown in place, broadband has clearly become an essential service, whether it be for work from home, educational material from schools or essential supplies.
There is some good news, though. As of December 2020, the European Electronic Communications Code was put into UK law, meaning Ofcom and the government can make it compulsory for internet providers to introduce affordable broadband tariffs.
So, Citizens Advice is currently calling on the UK government and Ofcom to make lowering tariffs compulsory for all broadband providers.