- Majority (63%) of people in the South East feel more vulnerable compared to the start of the pandemic, with more than a third (36%) needing additional financial support
- BT has launched Home Essentials to help 4.6 million low income families across the nations with half-price fibre broadband and calls
- BT’s 12,000 customer service colleagues to receive bespoke training to better support customers who need extra help, and a range of support services are also available in new Here for You section of BT.com (www.bt.com/help/here-for-you)
BT has launched a new social tariff for low income families, as new research has found more than a third of adults in the South East need financial help.
Exclusive to those on Universal Credit and a range of other means-tested benefits1, the Home Essentials package offers fibre broadband and calls for £15 a month, saving customers £2402 a year compared to an equivalent package. It is available now for customers to buy online at www.bt.com/home-essentials.
To mark the launch, BT has conducted new research to highlight the importance of connectivity. More than a third of people in the South East (36%) feel more financially vulnerable compared to the start of the pandemic and research shows that 75% of adults in the region say they would struggle to improve their financial situation or job prospects without a home connection.
The research also reveals that 63% of people in the South East feel generally more vulnerable compared to the start of the pandemic in at least one of the following areas: mental health, physical health, financial circumstances and employment prospects.
In response to the growing number of people who have found their life circumstances change over the past 18 months, BT is providing all of its 12,000 customer service colleagues with extra training to better identify those who require assistance and help keep them connected, as part of its Here For You campaign (www.bt.com/help/here-for-you).
Here for You brings together BT’s wide range of products and services for those who need extra help in one easy-to-navigate place and includes a series of videos that seek to explain the support BT offers. Here For You also includes information about the latest accessibility options and priority services for customers with long-term illnesses or disabilities, advice for dealing with scams and the newly launched Home Essentials social tariff.
More than a quarter (26%) of adults in the South East say unexpected life changes during the pandemic means they now need additional support. However, the research also shows that 27% are not comfortable sharing their problems with others, with 65% citing embarrassment as the main barrier to open discussion.
This mindset could be impacting the support that some customers receive, as nearly half (46%) of those surveyed unlikely to tell their mobile or broadband provider they may be struggling and need help managing their account. However, nearly a third (32%) of adults did also say they would feel more comfortable asking for help from their supplier if they knew that specific support was in place.
“BT’s purpose of Connecting for Good is at the heart of all we do, and a huge part of that is going above and beyond to support people who need it most. That’s why we’re launching BT Home Essentials, our low-cost fibre package that will now include all customers on Universal Credit, to provide a potential 4.6 million families across the UK with half-price fibre broadband and calls.
“BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fibre package because fast, reliable connectivity to access vital online services – and keep in touch with loved ones – is more important than ever. It is a big step towards creating the connected, digitally inclusive UK we all want to see.
“We’re also working hard to train all 12,000 of our contact centre colleagues so they can better support customers who might need a little more help. Through our 31 contact centres and nearly 600 stores up and down the country, we aim to provide the UK’s most personal, local service.”
Adam Bryan, Chief Executive of The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), said:
“In today’s digital world, affordable, reliable and fast connectivity is vital as we all have experienced during the pandemic, access to highspeed broadband has become essential infrastructure.
“This is especially important for vulnerable customers and I am delighted that BT is supporting low income households with this new broadband tariff to help everyone to access the support they need with affordable internet access.”
Honey Langcaster-James, Social and Behavioural Psychologist, said:
“Clearly, the pandemic has led to millions of people feeling more vulnerable – perhaps as a result of losing a loved one, or more commonly the stress and anxiety of financial insecurity. However, BT’s research also suggests that there is a perceived stigma that stops people from asking for help, which is where specific training for BT’s colleagues can be so valuable.
“People often feel under pressure to try to struggle on by themselves without seeking help. This is usually because of worries about what others might think and a general misconception that people are weak if they ask for support. Connectivity has become so essential, it’s important that service providers do more to acknowledge the specific needs of all their customers. The steps BT is taking are really important in order to encourage more people to ask for the support they really need.”
For more information visit www.bt.com/help/here-for-you.
Notes to Editors:
Research based on nationally representative sample of c.2,000 GB adults – April 2021.
1 BT Home Essentials is only for eligible customers which includes those on Universal Credit and people receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, and Employment and Support Allowance.
2 Based on standard pricing for BT’s equivalent broadband (Fibre Essential) and call plan packages on offer on 30 June 2021 for £27.99, with £7 for calls versus £15 for BT Home Essentials