Ofcom’s review of measures to protect people in debt or at risk of disconnection
According to Ofcom’s research, many people on low incomes are still struggling to pay their bills. Data collected shows that around two million households reported an affordability issue with broadband and/or smartphone services in the month before they were surveyed, or do not have internet at home partly due to cost. The 3.3 million households with the lowest incomes in the UK spend on average over 4% of their disposable income on fixed broadband, nearly four times more than the proportion of an average household.
Some larger retail providers have already introduced social tariffs on a voluntary basis. Communications Providers also have a regulatory requirement to treat customers fairly when they have not paid their bills. Any measures taken to effect payment or disconnect services must be proportionate and not unduly discriminatory and providers publish details of the measures they to take to obtain payment or disconnection.
However, Ofcom finds considerable variation in how different providers treat customers who may be in debt or struggling to pay their bills. In response, a Call for Inputs has been launched to examine whether the protections in place for customers should be strengthened.
The deadline for responses is 30 September.