Virgin Media O2 has announced additional support for those hit hardest by the cost-of-living crisis with a price cut to its existing social tariff and plans to launch a new triple speed social broadband tier with an optional discounted entertainment offer.
VMO2’s Essential Broadband, specifically targeted at those receiving Universal Credit, with speeds of 15Mbps will be cut in price by 16% to £12.50 per month for all new and existing customers, making it one of the cheapest packages in the market.
A new, faster tier called ‘Essential Broadband Plus’ launches in November that will deliver speeds of 50Mbps for £20 per month. All Essential Broadband products come with no fixed-term contract and no activation fees.
Essential Broadband Plus customers will have the option to add Virgin Media O2’s internet-based TV service Stream, for an upfront, one-off fee of just £20 – a 42% saving on the normal £35 charge – with no long-term contract or ongoing charges for the basic package.
Stream plugs into any TV and seamlessly combines live TV, on-demand apps and popular streaming subscriptions.
The price cut and new speed option build on a range of existing support measures and comes amid a cost-of-living crisis which is most adversely impacting low-income households. Research from Ofcom, published last month, found 8 million UK households are having difficulty affording communications services.
Charities have raised concern in recent months that a lack of internet access is holding people back from essential day-to-day activities – from shopping and entertainment to job searching and access to a range of online services.
Any customer taking Stream can get 10% credit back on the subscriptions they add to the service via their Virgin Media bill, giving customers a more affordable way to subscribe to major streaming services.
Working with Government to make sign-ups easier and prices cheaper
In August, after the Government launched a new tool designed to make it easier for customers to confirm their eligibility for social broadband tariffs, Virgin Media O2 confirmed it was the first provider working to implement the automated checks with integration expected in the coming months.
This project, once complete, will also enable Virgin Media O2 to expand the range of benefits in scope for its social tariffs to include Pension Credit amongst others for the first time, allowing more people to access these services.
The provider has also taken proactive steps to publicise the support on offer by including information about Essential Broadband on its website, social media channels and in the communications it sends to customers every year related to their contract.
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media O2 said:
“We have a long history of stepping up in tough times and now is no different. Connectivity remains an essential part of our lives, so we are boosting the support we provide to those who need it most in the cost-of-living crisis. We’re taking steps to increase awareness of our social broadband plans, while making it easier to sign up, and are calling on the Government to cut VAT on social tariffs which we will directly pass on, helping those struggling most to save even more.
“Through continued network investment, and a range of products at different price points and speeds, we consistently provide incredible value to customers and will keep playing our part in this challenging climate.”
David Buttress, the Government’s Cost of Living Business Tsar, said:
“It is good to see Virgin Media O2 taking clear action to support their customers through the cost of living crisis. By cutting the price of its Essential Broadband social tariff and introducing a new Essential Broadband Plus tariff, it is increasing flexibility, value and choice and giving support to those who need it most, while DWP’s recently launched service is making it easier and faster for eligible customers to access this cheaper broadband.”