Virgin Media broadband for Universal Credit claimants: what you need to know

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If you’re claiming Universal Credit, you’ll be able to get Virgin Media fibre broadband for a reduced price, with the launch of Virgin Media’s Essential Broadband package.

With the chill winds of recession blowing across the economy, Virgin Media has launched a cut-price broadband service aimed at Britons facing an uncertain financial future due to the Coronavirus public health crisis.

Dubbed Essential Broadband, the package is solely available to the 5.2 million Britons claiming Universal Credit.

Here we’ll look at how you qualify, how much it’ll cost, when the service will become available and what sort of speeds you can expect.

What’s the offer?

virgin media router

Virgin Media’s Essential Broadband gets you a fibre broadband fixed line service with an average speed of 15Mbps for £15 per month, so you’ll be able to trawl the internet for employment opportunities, pay bills, stay in touch and keep entertained while you’re between jobs.

The price point is well under the market rate compared with some of the UK’s cheapest entry-level broadband packages, such as Now Broadband’s Brilliant Broadband and Plusnet which come in at £18 per month and £18.99 per month respectively at the time of writing.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no data limit, so you won’t have to worry about racking up excess charges at a time when they’d be very unwelcome indeed.

What you don’t get with the offer is a landline. Essential Broadband is a broadband-only service, but you can sign up for a Virgin Media landline or Virgin Mobile plan and will be billed separately.

There’s no contract

You can sign up for Essential Broadband on a rolling-contract basis, which automatically refreshes every 30 days. So there’s no long-term commitment and you can cancel if you like, provided you give 30 days’ notice.

The price is fixed

Virgin Media has pledged that the £15 per month price of Essential Broadband will remain fixed, as long as you remain on Universal Credit.

It has also promised there’ll be no charges to pay for existing Virgin Media customers who downgrade from one of its standard broadband products to Essential Broadband.

How to qualify

If you’re one of the 5.2 million people claiming Universal Credit, you’ll qualify for Virgin Media’s Essential Broadband offer. And you'll need to prove you’re claiming at the point of purchase via an online form.

If you come off Universal Credit, you’ll still be able to take Essential Broadband but you’ll pay £23 per month.

Or you’ve got the option of upgrading to another Virgin Media broadband product.

According to a Virgin Media spokesperson, it will review customers’ eligibility on an annual basis.

This will involve a member of Virgin Media’s customer service team contacting the customer to verify if they’re still receiving universal credit.

Of course, even if you do qualify you’ll need to be in an area covered by Virgin Media’s broadband network to be able to sign up.

Not sure if it’s on offer at your address? Use our postcode checker to find out.

When will Essential Broadband be available?

Essential Broadband will launch some time in autumn 2020 and will initially only be available to existing Virgin Media customers.

Do other providers offer discounts for people on benefits?

young couple

BT’s Basic broadband product is a stripped-down service for people receiving benefits. You may be able to get it if you’re in receipt of:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)
  • Universal Credit (and are on zero earnings)

Unlike Virgin Media’s Essential Broadband, BT Basic is an ADSL broadband and home phone service and is priced just over £10 per month at the time of writing.

This gets you an average speed of 10Mbps and a usage limit of 15GB per month. So you’ll need to be mindful of not exceeding your limit and running up charges for excess usage.

BT Basic also includes a call allowance of £1.50 per month, as well as free weekend calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers for up to an hour.

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