Virgin Media

Virgin Media launching Broadband plan for Universal Credit claimants

15 Mbps download, 2Mbps upload, and uncapped data usage for £15 monthly.

Virgin Media is to launch a broadband-only plan, called “Virgin Media Essential Broadband”, which will be available to those receiving Universal Credit and will come with a speed of 15 Mbps and a fixed price of £15 per month, with no fixed-term contract length and no price changes while benefit payments are being received. The service will launch in the Autumn.

Available initially for existing Virgin Media customers, they will be able to take the new service by simply filling out an online form and providing proof of their Universal Credit status.

If a customer stops receiving Universal Credit they will be able to continue taking the “Virgin Media Essential Broadband” service at £23 per month or move to another Virgin Media package.

The service comes with an uncapped data usage allowance and a 2Mbps upload speed. As the deal is broadband only, existing customers with a phone line or cable services such as TV won’t be able to retain them in the downgrade. Virgin said this will be made clear to customers before they switch.

There is no mention of whether the plan will be available to those on ESA or similar benefits, who have not yet moved to Universal Credit.

Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media, said: 

“We know that these are tough times and that there are many people finding it more difficult to make ends meet and facing financial uncertainty. At the same time, the role of broadband in helping people to stay connected has never been clearer. Whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family, finding advice and support or searching for jobs and working remotely – broadband underpins it all.

“With this all in mind, we wanted to make sure that those customers receiving benefit payments were able to access reliable, hassle-free connectivity with enough speed to carry out essential online activities.

“Building on the industry-leading initiatives we’ve already launched for vulnerable customers, we’ll continue to work tirelessly to keep the country connected and support our customers in whatever way we can.”

The latest official figures show that there were 5.6 million people on Universal Credit at 9 July 2020 – which is an increase of 2% from June 2020. Of those, 42% of claimants were in the ‘searching for work’ conditionality group, an increase of 6% from March 2020.

The economic pressures of lockdown did see an increase in claimants with 2.4 million starts to Universal Credit between 13 March and 14 May 2020, with young people making up a greater proportion of starts compared to pre-lockdown. However, benefit claims made have reduced to 240,000 in the 4 weeks to 9 July 2020.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: 

“Having affordable access to the internet can improve people’s quality of life, connecting them with friends and family and giving them a tool to build a brighter future. That is why the government brokered major deals with broadband companies to support those struggling to pay bills right now.

“I want to see continued efforts to protect consumers beyond the pandemic and welcome Virgin Media offering a permanent package giving vulnerable and low-income families the flexibility to continue to benefit from reliable connectivity.

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