A million families at risk of falling the wrong side of the digital divide due to rising cost of living
Oct 19, 2022
- New research estimates almost a million families at risk of falling the wrong side of the digital divide due to the rising cost of living.
- Research also reveals the cost to families of not being connected and missing out on online prices and deals is £286 a month.
- Vodafone steps up support for UK households and small businesses – launching Vodafone Essentials Broadband for £12 a month and one-year free broadband for businesses (worth up to £348 a year).
- Vodafone now the only operator to offer both fixed and mobile (VOXI for Now) social tariffs, allowing eligible customers to save £420 a year in total vs. equivalent full-price tariffs.
- Vodafone has now donated 750,000 SIM cards as part of its everyone.connected campaign and is doubling the free data available from 20 to 40 GB a month.
As many as a million working families are at risk of falling the wrong side of the digital divide in the next three months due to the rising cost of living, according to new research commissioned by Vodafone. The YouGov research and forecasts by Development Economics predicts families stand to lose £286 a month (£3,432 a year) without access to the best prices and deals online.
In response, Vodafone has launched the most affordable social broadband tariff on the market at £12 a month. Vodafone Essentials Broadband is not only available to people on Job Seekers Allowance and Universal Credit, but also those on Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. Customers can join without a set-up fee, leave for free at any time and won’t be subject to in-contract price changes. The plan gives access to Vodafone’s Fibre 1 or Full Fibre 1 Essentials Broadband plan for 12 months, providing fast connectivity, with average download speeds of 38Mbps.
For small business owners, Vodafone will offer free broadband for a year to help mitigate rising costs and help businesses stay connected to customers. This comes as new research commissioned by Vodafone (from Walr) shows more than a third (35%) have admitted to downgrading, cancelling or considering cancelling their broadband to save money. This new support package offers Vodafone’s award-winning business-grade broadband free for 12-months on a 24-month plan, and is available to new customers and existing customers who are eligible to upgrade.
Ahmed Essam, Vodafones UK CEO, said: “The rising cost of living is putting a million families at risk of falling on the wrong side of the digital divide. We must not allow this to happen.
“So as part of our everyone.connected programme, today we are launching Vodafone Essentials Broadband at just £12 a month, the cheapest on the market, and 12 months free broadband for small businesses. Vodafone is the only network provider to offer social tariffs across fixed and mobile, meaning eligible customers can access mobile and broadband connectivity for 72p a day.
“These new tariffs complement VOXI for Now and the 750,000 free SIMS we’ve donated so far as part of our everyone.connected programme. We’re on track to meet our commitment to donate a million connections by the end of this year and will continue to put the cause at the heart of our business until the problem no longer exists.”
‘Struggling to pay’
The YouGov research of over 2,000 UK adults revealed the extent people rely on connectivity to save money, with the majority (70%) claiming they’re the same (37%) or better off by shopping online (33%) and 29% saying they have been turning to the internet more to help save money during the cost of living crisis.
When it comes to bills, 16% of respondents say they are struggling to pay due to the crisis, and 42% expect to struggle. Almost half (45%) say they know someone who is struggling, and two thirds (66%) say they will be struggling in one to six months’ time.
The cost-of-living crisis is forcing many to think about how they spend their household budgets. When asked to prioritise which three household expenses people would try hardest to reduce to ease the burden, energy (45%), takeaways or eating out (44%), and grocery shopping (34%) topped the list. Home broadband (28%) and mobile phone contracts (10%) came in at number three in the most essential expenditures, after food and energy.
With connectivity seen as a household essential, most people surveyed (86%) access the internet multiple times a day, via their smart phone (80%), computer or laptop (59%) with three in five (60%) using mobile connectivity when out and about but connecting to broadband or WiFi when they can.
Emma Revie, CEO, Trussell Trust said: “We know that the soaring cost of living means that more and more people in the UK are struggling to afford the essentials that they need to get by, including internet access. Whether it be applying for job and volunteering opportunities, managing finances, or ensuring a child can do their homework, we all depend on the internet in our daily lives and not having access to it can lead to people facing digital exclusion.
“We’re grateful to Vodafone for providing much-needed affordable internet and phone solutions that will allow people on the lowest incomes to stay connected and able to access vital opportunities and services online. We are pleased that our partnership with Vodafone has already contributed towards their achievement of helping 750,000 people through the everyone.connected programme and we look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that no-one has to choose between internet access and other essentials.”
Vodafone’s everyone.connected campaign includes a range of partnerships and initiatives to help more people cross the digital divide, giving them the connectivity and skills they need to stay connected and participate fully in an increasingly digital society. Vodafone has pledged to help one million people cross the digital divide by the end of 2022, with 750,000 connections donated to date. It is also doubling the free data allowance people will receive through the everyone.connected programme from 20 to 40 GB a month.
Vodafone Essentials Broadband at £12 a month has been launched to help those most in need during the current cost of living crisis, but in order for this to be sustainable, Vodafone has called upon Openreach to provide a wholesale cost for vulnerable customers.
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