With a range of low-cost options and offers, getting online has never been so accessible. Take a look to see if you could save money and still being digitally connected.
Free WIFI and computer access in libraries
Durham County Council offer free computer and internet access in all of their 39 libraries across the county. To use this facility you must be a member of the library and book a session either by phone, in person or using the online system. Please visit the Durham County Council library page for more information about internet access and computers in our libraries.
UK Online Centres Website
Check out the UK Online Centres website ‘centre search’ to find out where your nearest centre is. They often offer courses, clubs, free Wi-Fi and computer access.
Cheap broadband for low-income households
Although broadband and mobile social tariffs could save households hundreds of pounds, statistics show that only 1.2% of those eligible for them have one. The table below shows packages currently available to County Durham residents (subject to service availability). These can change so check out the latest UK-wide social tariff packages on Ofcom’s website before you commit to a new deal.
|Package||Price (Monthly contract)||Average speed||You could qualify if you receive...|
|Alncom home broadband||£15||Up to 35 Mbps||Please check with the supplier|
|BT Home Essentials||£15||Up to 67 Mbps||*Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|NOW broadband Basics||£20||36 Mbps||Universal Credit or Pension Credit|
|Sky Broadband Basics||£20||36 Mbps||Universal Credit or Pension Credit|
|Virgin Media Essential Broadband||£12.50||15 Mbps||Universal Credit|
|Virgin Media Essential Broadband||£20||54 Mbps||Universal Credit|
|Vodafone Fibre 1 Essentials||£12||38 Mbps||*Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|Vodafone Fibre 2 Essentials||£20||73 Mbps||*Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|VOXI For Now||£10||5G where available||*Various benefits (in and out of work)|
|YouFibre 50||£15||50 Mbps||*Various benefits (in and out of work)|
*Various benefits is likely to include:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-Related Employment Support Allowance
To check your eligibility and start a social tariff contract, contact your chosen provider. Don’t forget if you’re already in contract you’ll need to discuss this with your current provider or wait until your contract ends.
Talk Talk voucher scheme
Jobseekers can benefit from six months of free broadband with the Talk Talk and DWP Flexible Support Fund. The scheme offers a no-contract voucher issued by jobcentres to receive Talk Talk’s Fibre35 broadband with speeds up to 40 Megabits per second (Mbps).
Mobile data schemes
There are a number of initiatives currently that offer free data-loaded mobile SIMs to those eligible:
- Vodafone’s Buy One Give One campaign provides people in need with a SIM card loaded with 20GB of data plus free calls and texts each month for up to a year. SIMs are issued through Trussell Trust Foodbanks.
- Vodafone’s Charities Connected provides free data-loaded SIMs to charities to either distribute to individuals or to deliver training to digitally excluded people. As above each SIM has 20GB plus unlimited calls and texts, however these SIMs only run for six months.
- Good Things Foundation’s National Data Bank provides data-loaded SIMs for up to 12 months from Virgin Media, O2, Vodafone and Three. You must be over the age of 18, from a low-income household and meet other eligibility criteria for access to the internet.
- Some housing associations have been given pre-loaded SIM cards to give out to their eligible tenants. If you live in social housing check with your social housing association.
- EE Basics is a social mobile tariff for customers who receive certain means-tested benefits. The package costs £12 per month and provides a 30-day SIM-only package that includes 5GB data, unlimited calls and unlimited texts on EE’s network.
- Three offer a 5G social tariff for those on income support and other benefits and is being offered through the operator’s sub-brand Smarty. SMARTY Social Tariff provides unlimited data, calls and texts for £12 a month for those that qualify.
- Existing Sky broadband customers in receipt of universal credit, pension credit, income-based employment support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, or income support, are entitled to a free 3GB per month SIM with Sky Mobile.
Other financial help
If you’re struggling with the cost of devices and connectivity or have financial concerns in other areas of life, wider support is available:
- Durham County Council financial help pages provide information on where you can get support locally, initiatives to help you manage your money and details of the North East Credit Union providing loans, savings and other benefits.
- Advice in County Durham provides signposting to advice providers in County Durham including Money Advice County Durham and Citizens Advice.