Virgin Media announced a budget envelope for recipients of universal credit. Unemployment rates are expected to skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic. While unemployment has only increased by around 2%, the true extent of the damage to the labor market is obscured by the leave scheme.
Unemployment figures are expected to rise significantly in October, when the holiday scheme ends. However, there were already reports that the universal credit system was inundated with new claims over the summer. So, Virgin’s budget is likely to become a lifeline for many Brits this year.
Last year, in response to the growing number of financially insecure Britons, Ofcom made some recommendations to ISPs. Ofcom stressed the need for ISPs to support vulnerable people, treat existing customers more fairly and provide transparent information.
So while Virgin’s budget plan looks timely, they may have been working on it since Ofcom’s announcement.
The ‘Essential Broadband’ package will cost £ 15 per month for 15 Mbps. Another important feature is that the package will not have a fixed contract term. The plan will also be immune to price changes while the customer receives universal credit.
The flexible duration of this contract could change the lives of low-income households. Unexpected price changes during a 24-month contract hold many low-income households hostage to unaffordable plans.
If the customer stops receiving Universal Credit then it will be increased up to £ 23 per month, or you can upgrade to a better plan. However, you would be hard-pressed to find such a flexible contract length elsewhere. So staying with Virgin on £ 23 a month might be safer during uncertain financial times.
When can I get it?
The Essential package would be available from “fall”, so no confirmed date yet. What we do know, however, is that existing Virgin customers will be able to upgrade to the plan. This means that if you lose your job when your leave ends, you can convert your current plan to an Essential plan.
Those upgrading to the plan or new Virgin customers who sign up for the plan will need to provide proof of receipt of Universal Credit.
Virgin clarified that this is a broadband offer only. So if a customer downgrades a broadband / phone deal, they won’t be able to keep their phone. A customer can still subscribe to a Virgin Mobile plan which will then be billed separately.