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14,273 low income households in Bedford Borough paying over the odds for their broadband as Government fails to act

November 23, 2021 8:00 AM
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

Superfast Broadband14,273 low income households in Bedford Borough are paying too much for their broadband because the Government has not exercised the power it has to force providers to offer cheaper tariffs, an analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found.

So-called 'social tariffs', which typically offer broadband access between £10 and £20 a month, are only currently offered by some providers. But changes to the law that came into force last year mean that the Government now has the ability to force broadband providers to offer these cheaper deals to low income households.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to offer relief to families facing a cost of living crisis, by forcing broadband providers to offer cheaper deals to vulnerable residents in the Borough.

Research by the House of Commons Library suggests that 14,273 households in Bedford Borough could see a reduction in their bills under the Liberal Democrat proposals. This figure is the number of Bedford Borough households receiving Universal Credit, which is one way the eligibility for social tariffs could be based on. These households are among the seven million across the country that are currently missing out on cheaper internet access.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Christine McHugh said that "Some of our most vulnerable residents are bracing themselves for a cost of living crisis, with energy bills soaring through the roof, a slash to Universal Credit and unfair Tory tax hikes leaving everyone feeling the squeeze.

"A reduction in broadband bills could be the breathing space families in Bedford Borough need this winter. Instead this Conservative Government is choosing to sit on its hands and leave thousands here paying over the odds."

Mayor Dave Hodgson added "Access to broadband is vital for learning, for work, and for staying connected. Social tariffs are a lifeline for people in need of greater connectivity and should be provided to anyone who needs them."