BT are one of the first companies to offer a “social tariff” for broadband, in the form of their “Home Essentials” plan. But is it any good, is it worth switching to, or should you stay with your regular broadband provider?
Hint: If you just want to find out how to sign-up for BT Home Essentials – as the link is quite difficult to find on the BT website – then here it is:
Keep reading below for our review of the BT Home Essentials plan, including details on average download speeds, and contract length.
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What is a Social Tariff?
Social tariffs are essentially discounts available on broadband, energy, mobile contracts, and even on your water bills.
The social tariff scheme was launched by the UK government & Ofcom in 2021, but it is only really in the last few months that the social tariff system has started to become more widely known.
Thankfully many broadband providers offer a special cheaper plan for those households who are eligible for the social tariff discount – in the case of BT, the plan is called the Home Essentials plan.
Who are social tariffs aimed at?
If you are in receipt of benefits (such as Universal Credit or several others) then you are probably eligible to get a reduced monthly price on many of your utilities.
It sounds too good to be true, but it really isn’t.
The Social Tariff system is quite new, and not many people in the UK are aware of it – in fact, it was revealed recently that only 2% of eligible households actually receive any sort of Social Tariff. It was created to give some financial repireve to those households suffering the most from the cost of living crisis.
Be aware that social tariff discounts on broadband are a little different to the discounts you can get on your water bills… most broadband providers only check to make sure you receive benefits. They do not, for example, check your overall household income (like water companies do). So if you are not in receipt of any sort of benefit but your household income is very low, sadly this means that you probably aren’t eligible to get the Home Essentials range from BT.
So how can you save up to 70% off your broadband bills? The first step is to check that you are eligible.
BT have pioneered the Home Essentials plan – it is available across the UK and you can get it right now, assuming you meet the eligibility requirements. And what’s more, BT’s verification checks are pretty much instant, so there is no need to call them or wait around.
Is BT Home Essentials cheaper for a reason?
If you are worried that you will not be receiving the same level of service or download speeds as other full-price customers, then don’t worry.
The Social Tariff system is designed to provide a cost-effective way to get broadband without breaking the bank. It is intended only for those households struggling financially. However, the product itself is exactly the same as you would receive if you were paying full price. It uses the same ‘network’ and you aren’t going to be penalised for using it.
Of course, don’t expect lightning fast fibre optic for £15 a month, but if you only need standard broadband then it’s a great way of saving up to £144 a year for doing practically no legwork.
(If you’re looking for Superfast internet via the social tariff system, with speeds up to 150Mbps, then consider Hyperoptic).
What equipment will I get?
When you sign up to the BT Home Essentials plan, you’ll also receive a regular BT Smart Hub like this, absolutely free:
This is the same Wi-Fi router that BT provide to standard / full-price customers.
🔥How do I get BT Home Essentials?
It is surprisingly difficult to find the link to sign-up for the Home Essentials plan with BT, but once you find it, the process is pretty easy.
BT instantly verify your status and eligibility with the DWP, unlike most other internet providers. So if you are in a hurry to get set up, BT are a great choice because of the lack of delays in processing your application.
1. Here’s how to sign up now/switch to BT Home Essentials:
2. Then follow these instructions:
Enter your postcode on the above link, to see which BT Home Essentials plans are available. Both new and existing BT customers can apply.
Once you’ve picked a plan, you’ll go into the BT checkout.
As part of the checkout, BT will run an online eligibility check.
They’ll ask for your last name, date of birth and National Insurance number.
BT will check these details with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to see if you’re on one of the qualifying benefit(s).
You’ll get an instant response and, if eligible, you can complete your Home Essentials order straight away online. Great!
If you need any help with the signup process, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page and we’ll get right back to you.
How much can I save with BT Home Essentials?
The Home Essentials plan actually contains three different sub-plans so you need to choose the one best suited to your needs:
|Home Essentials Unlimited Fibre Essential||Home Essentials Unlimited Fibre||Home Essentials Call Only|
|Fibre broadband with average speeds of 36Mbps||Fibre broadband with average speeds of 67Mbps||N/A|
|700 inclusive anytime minutes a month to UK mobiles and 01,02,03, 0845 and 0870 numbers excluding the Channel Islands||Unlimited anytime calls to UK mobiles and 01,02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers excluding Channel Islands||Unlimited anytime calls to UK mobiles and 01,02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers excluding Channel Islands|
|£15 / month||£20 / month||£10 / month|
We’d recommend the Home Essentials Unlimited Fibre plan, for £20 a month, for most users. The equivalent plan for customers who pay the full price is the Fibre 2 plan, which costs £33.99 a month.
If however your household budget is more limited, then the basic £15 a month plan still includes average speeds of 36Mbps, so it’s still pretty fast. 🙂
The cheapest plan – for £10 a month – does not include any broadband internet access. This plan is for those who want to use the landline and make unlimited phone calls.
Remember that all three of these plans are for 12 months but you can cancel at any time during that 12 month period without any exit or termination fees.
Do I qualify for BT Home Essentials? (Check my eligibility)
To be able to get the social tariff discount, you (the main billpayer) needs to be in receipt of any ONE of the following:
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Pension Credit (PC)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income Support
If you are in receipt of another benefit not listed here, such as PIP or Carer’s Allowance, then BT sadly do not accept these at the current time. However, other broadband providers like Vodafone certainly do – find out how to sign up.
BT advise that there are further eligibility rules to be aware of, for JSA claimants:
You need to be receiving income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance to qualify for Home Essentials. People on contribution-based only JSA are not eligible. If you receive both income and contribution-based JSA, your income-based JSA must be higher.
FAQs about BT Home Essentials
Here are some common questions about signing up for the BT Home Essentials broadband package. If you need more help, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
Is this offer open to new and existing customers?
Yes. You can join the BT Home Essentials plan if you are a new customer, or be switched to it if you are an existing BT customer. Great!
Will there be a credit check?
Yes, there will be a credit check, but only if you are a new customer.
If you are an existing customer then a ‘soft’ credit check will take place. This is the same for most if not all broadband providers and won’t be recorded as a search.
If you don’t want to risk a credit check, then Vodafone offer a similar broadband plan for social tariff customers, without any credit checks.
If I come off benefits, am I still eligible?
Because BT offer only a year-long contract, it doesn’t matter if you are on benefits now but aren’t in the future. The contract is guaranteed for a year; so you can continue to use it for the whole year. This is fine and part of their terms and conditions, so don’t worry!
If you are on the same benefits or income support when the 12 month contract expires, then BT have confirmed that you can take out a brand new 12 month contract again for the following year.
What’s the contract term for the Home Essentials plan?
The Home Essentials Plan comes with a 12 month contract.
However, you can choose to leave or swap their plan at any time, there are no cancellation or early termination (exit) charges.
When a customer reaches month 11 of their Home Essentials Plan, BT will contact you by email/letter to let you know that you’re nearing the end of the “price guarantee” under their Home Essentials Plan. This means that BT will need to run another eligibility check on the 12 month anniversary of the plan.
How frequently will BT check that I’m eligible for Home Essentials?
BT say they well run an eligibility check every 12 months. If a customer is still eligible for a Home Essentials Plan and wants their plan to continue, they’ll renew their plan for another 12 months.