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4.7 Million Households Struggled to Pay Their Phone and Broadband Bills in 2020

2020 was a tough year for many... it was the year of lockdowns, furlough, zoom calls and face masks. It was the year where we all stayed at home, and unfortunately many businesses and individuals suffered major financial hardship.  

In 2020, the entire nation relied on their internet connection more than ever before... for work, home-schooling, entertainment and to keep in touch with friends and family. Broadband switched from being a luxury to a complete necessity.  

Unfortunately, it is reported that almost 5 million households struggled to afford their phone and broadband bills in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

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Ofcom also reported that more than one million of those households even had to cut back on food and clothes to be able to pay their bills and remain online. 

Is there any help for those struggling financially? 

In light of these new findings, the communications regulator has questioned the affordability of major providers and called for them to provide more help to struggling consumers.  

For example, Ofcom asked companies should consider offering a ‘targeted affordable tariff’ to people on low incomes if they don’t already. They also requested for providers to rethink their debt and disconnection practices to help those struggling to pay their bills. 

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's network and communications group director, said lockdown rules had "laid bare" how dependent people are on a reliable internet connection. 

"It's important that affordable options are available so everyone can stay connected, particularly those who have fallen on hard times"

She added, "It's clear providers can do more to support customers who are in financial difficulty." 

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch, said more could be done "to make struggling consumers aware of the support already available". 

Three tips for reducing your broadband bills 

  1. Switch to a new provider if you’re out of contract 

This is usually the most popular option when it comes to reducing your bills, as the savings could be huge and you won’t have to compromise on your speeds. You’ll be taking advantage of those cheaper, new customer offers – instead of staying on that inflated monthly rolling plan.  

2. Get slower broadband speeds 

If you don’t need the superfast internet speeds you’ve currently got, why not sign up for a slower package and potentially save yourself some money. Netflix only requires minimum broadband speeds of around 3Mbps to work. So unless you have a large household of internet users, you could get away with downgrading your package.  

3. Consider unbundling your broadband and TV package 

The question you need to ask yourself is: ‘Do you really need that expensive TV package?’ It could be adding £100s onto your bills every year. Remember, there are a plethora of free platforms, such as ITV Hub, All 4, BBC iPlayer, plus a multitude of channels on Freeview.  

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