Compare Fibre Co-Founders Call For Means Tested Broadband to help 7.6 million residents in Digital Poverty
A Citizens Advice Bureau Report reveals that 1 in 6 families are struggling to afford broadband, and research conducted by broadband comparison website Compare Fibre reveals that 7.6 million UK residents are in digital poverty, with 57.4% of lower income households even unaware of the help which is available during the pandemic, including:
- Free wifi vouchers are available for 5 million hotspots – and you don’t need to be a BT customer
- The UK Government “Get Help With Tech” scheme offers increased mobile data from EE, O2, Sky Mobile, SMARTY, Tesco Mobile, Three and Virgin Mobile, as well as free 4G routers
- Vodafone offers 350,000 students free 30Gb data sim cards
Nathan Hill-Haimes, Co-Founder, Compare Fibre says these schemes are helpful but is calling for free means-tested broadband so the less affluent do not get left behind, especially with children now relying on the web to learn online:
“There is support on offer, but we need to go further. It is so sad that lower-income families are choosing between feeding their families and paying broadband bills. Before homeschooling, broadband was a luxury, but now it’s a necessity. Access to learning is a human right; we have to help more.
“Further, the importance that an Internet connection plays in children’s education is not diminished just because a lockdown ends. If anything, it becomes more important to those left behind that now need to catch up. It is excellent that there is free broadband on offer. Our broader concern is what happens once the pandemic is over. That’s why we’re calling for a long-term solution in the form of means-tested broadband.”
Radaam Thurlway, Co-Founder, adds:
“Why are we expecting lower income household to choose whether to get a loaf of bread, or pint of milk, over paying a broadband bill? It’s hard enough trying to keep safe, make ends meet and homeschool kids at the moment. As a nation, we should be supporting access to the internet, e-learning whatever it takes.
“You can see a time when Job Centres and Government subsidised back to work training schemes are 100% online, but those that most need this support can’t afford the Internet access. It’s a total absurdity! As and when the Covid pandemic ends, there’s a £20 benefit uplift that could go towards paying for an Internet connection for those most in need. There are services at decent speeds costing less than £20, just ask Origin, Onespeed or Origin for example.”
“Enabling lower-income household to eat, learn and work, should be a top government priority. Access to the internet is a human right fundamentally connected to a basic standard of living.
“Gigabit and rural voucher schemes have been in operation for years subsidising the cost of installing new fast and reliable connections for homes and SME businesses. There’s no reason why the Government couldn’t swiftly implement a similar scheme to assist those in need with affordable broadband access.”