LGA calls for cheap broadband tariffs for poorest household

20 Oct 16

Poorer households should be offered a subsidised basic broadband package to ensure they can remain engaged with public services, the Local Government Association said today.

The group called on the government to include a social tariff within its universal service obligation (USO), providing an affordable 10 Mbps services for those households most in need.

With more public services being offered digitally, broadband had become an essential safety net for low-income households, the LGA said.

Under the broadband USO, people will have the legal right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10 Mbps, no matter where they live.

A consultation that ran earlier this year found there was “considerable support” for the idea.

The LGA noted that BT already offers a basic subsidised telephony and broadband package to qualifying customers and said a similar offer should be provided by any supplier delivering the USO.

Mark Hawthorne, chair of the LGA’s people and places board, said digital connectivity was a vital element of everyday life for citizens, helping them shop, save money, keep in touch with relatives and start businesses.

“As central and local government services become more digital, the USO will need to provide faster and more reliable speeds and, for our most vulnerable residents, a subsided connection at an affordable price,” he said.

Hawthorne highlighted that the quality of digital connectivity can be highly variable across the country, and added that “councils want to see a social tariff enabling all people to be able to access a subsidised broadband service”. 

The broadband call forms part of the LGA’s submission to government ahead of the Autumn Statement on November 23.

Speaking last year, then prime minister David Cameron said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain.”

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