UK peers told broadband must be made accessible to all

(Image credit: RichLegg)

At a recent Lords Digital Committee digital exclusion hearing, experts told peers that broadband must be made more accessible to people on benefits. These experts also told the peers that cutting VAT on broadband could help people who struggle with 'digital exclusion'.

Rocio Concha, of consumer group Which?, urged action to get more people on benefits using cheaper social tariffs. This echoes comments that were recently made by the government, who told firms that they must raise awareness of these deals. 

According to another expert, Helen Milner, chief executive of charity The Good Things Foundation, "over one in 20 households have no internet at all, either fixed line or mobile."

This news comes at a time when many of the UK's most popular internet service providers are set to increase their prices, making them more unaffordable for people who are already struggling with the ongoing cost of living crisis. If your bills are set to increase this spring and you're out of contract, head to our best broadband deals page today and lock in a better rate before the rises come into effect. 

'Digital exclusion' under discussion

According to Baroness Stowell, who chairs the Lords Digital Committee, the current high cost of living is pushing some people into 'digital exclusion'.

Experts told the committee that digital exclusion is a term that describes an interconnected set of problems with the internet, including: 

  • No access to it
  • Not having a device to connect to it
  • A lack of skills or confidence to use it

According to evidence given by Rowlando Morgan of The Centre for Economics and Business Research, ending digital exclusion for key groups could generate £13.7bn in economic benefits over 10 years for a cost of £1.4bn.

Broadband should be seen as an 'essential utility' 

Cheaper social tariffs are currently available for benefit claimants, but estimates suggest that only 3.2% of those who qualify for social tariffs actually use them. 

Ms Concha told the peers that "access to the internet is an essential utility in today's world, as important as having access to water, gas and electricity." As a result, she argued that social contracts in particular should be exempt from VAT for domestic users.  This is a move that's also supported by industry groups. 

In addition to this, the committee was also told that consumers who are not on social tariffs are facing above-inflation price increases of up to 17% this spring. As a result, the committee was informed that financially vulnerable people should be able to switch contract without financial penalty, and should not be compelled to pay these increases.

How can I save money on my broadband? 

If your bills are due to increase by 17% this spring, then now is the time to take action. If you're out of contract, then you'll likely be able to find a much better (and cheaper) internet deal. If this is the case, head over to our top broadband deals page today or use our widget to see exactly what's available in your area. 

Tom Brook

Tom is a freelance copywriter and content marketer with over a decade of experience. Originally from an agency background, he is proud to have worked on campaigns for a number of energy providers, comparison sites and consumer brands.