UK telecoms industry commit to cost of living plan

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Image credit: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images

Some of the UK’s best-known broadband and mobile operators have agreed to a number of new commitments to help customers with the rising cost of living.

These include measures such as allowing customers struggling with bills to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans, and options to improve existing low cost offers and increasing promotion of existing deals. The announcement was made at a government-led summit at No 10 Downing Street.

Attendees included representative from the majority of the UK telecoms market - including BT Group, Openreach, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, Three, TalkTalk and Sky (see the full list at the end of the story). Companies signed up to the pledges at an event chaired by digital secretary Nadine Dorries and cost of living business tsar David Buttress.

Commitments, which will begin with immediate effect include a commitment to supporting customers who may be struggling with the cost-of-living and to treat them with compassion, understanding and as individuals.

Providers committed to supporting customers struggling with their bills and to offer ways to keep them connected, such as allowing them to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans. They also committed to take steps to raise awareness of low cost products to those claiming Universal Credit. For operators came the promise to protect the connectivity of customers known to be vulnerable as a priority.

The commitment from mobile providers was to consider more ways to help customers, including looking at tariffs, options to improve existing low cost offers, and increasing promotion of existing deals.

Digital secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘Families across the country face increased anxiety about keeping up with bills, so today I agreed with broadband and mobile industry bosses what more can be done to support people during this difficult time. I’m pleased to report the industry is listening and has signed up to new commitments offering customers struggling with the cost of living help to stay connected.’

Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Service Providers’ Association, added: ‘The telecoms sector knows that people are facing real challenges with the cost-of-living crisis. Our members are determined to do what they can to help their customers through this period and, together with government, we will work to raise greater awareness of the support available. These commitments, along with the social tariffs that are available from many members, will hopefully help people in need at this challenging time. We encourage customers who are struggling with their bills to reach out to their broadband provider to get help.’

Earlier this year, a number of broadband providers and ISPs outlined their own commitments to helping customers during the current cost of living crisis by freezing their prices for 2022, including KCOM, Hyperoptic, Fibrus and Giganet.

Meeting attendees: Nadine Dorries, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and sport;David Buttress, cost of living business tsar; Sabine Chalmers, director of regulatory affairs and company secretary, BT Group; Marc Allera, chief executive, BT Consumer; Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer, Virgin Media O2; Stephen Van Rooyen, chief executive officer, Sky; Tristia Harrison, chief executive officer, TalkTalk; Dana Tobak, chief executive officer, Hyperoptic; Graeme Oxby, chief executive, CommunityFibre; David Sangster, chief executive officer, G.Network; Clive Selley, chief executive officer, Openreach; Ahmed Essam, chief executive, Vodafone UK; Tony Keeling, chief executive officer, Shell Energy; Greg Mesch, chief executive officer, CityFibre; Gareth Williams, chief executive officer, Gigaclear; Malcolm Corbett, chief executive officer, Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA); Tim Shaw, chief executive, Kcom; Andrew Glovers, chair, Internet Service Providers Association; Lindsey Fussell, group director, Ofcom; Elaine Carey, chief commercial officer, Three and Hamish MacLeod, chief executive, Mobile UK.

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