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Social Security Benefits: Broadband

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 49125, tabled on 14 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the recommendations from the Institute for Public Policy Research of September 2021, to include the cost of broadband in (a) social security payments and (b) allowances for asylum seekers.

Answered on

22 September 2021

No assessment has been made.

Policy on broadband is a matter for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. A range of broadband social tariff packages are available in the market to support those on low incomes or who receive specific benefits. BT, for example, recently announced a Home Essentials package which will provide fibre and voice services to households in receipt of Universal Credit and certain other benefits for £15 per month. Virgin, Hyperoptic and other providers are offering similar packages to assist households on low incomes. Between them, these products are available to 99% of households across the country. The Government continues to encourage all fixed-line providers to introduce a social tariff offer so as to ensure those on low incomes have affordable access to services and information.

With respect to rates of income-related benefits, these are not made up of separate amounts for specific items such as broadband. Rather, they are intended to cover outgoings across households with a wide variety of characteristics and expenditure patterns.

Allowances for asylum seekers are a matter for the Home Office. Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with accommodation and other support to cover their essential needs, usually in the form of a weekly cash allowance. The level of the allowance is reviewed annually and takes into account communication needs, including the cost of buying and maintaining a mobile phone with internet access.