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Telecoms firms must better support customers as record number of households struggle to pay bills

Ofcom yesterday urged telecoms firms to do more to support their customers through the cost-of-living crisis, as new research reveals record numbers of households are struggling to afford their communications services. 

  • 8 million households having problems affording communications services – doubling since 2021
  • 97% of eligible low-income households yet to take advantage of specially-discounted superfast broadband deals
  • Ofcom presses firms to consider whether large price rises can be justified at time of exceptional financial hardship – and demands collective industry action to better promote social tariffs

Ofcom’s annual affordability study finds that nearly a third (29%) of customers – around 8 million households – are having problems paying for their phone, broadband, pay-TV and streaming bills. The number of struggling families has doubled over the last year (from 15% in April 2021) and now stands at its highest level since our records began.

Younger adults aged 18-24 (43%), households with children (40%), benefits recipients (39%) and people with a disability or limiting condition (39%) are most likely to be having difficulty affording their communications services. One in seven (14%) respondents said they had cut back other spending, such as on food and clothing, to afford their communications services, while 9% said they decided to cancel a service.

Speaking at a recent conference attended by telecoms industry leaders, Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Group Director, stressed the regulator’s concerns about the prospect of large price increases for people locked into their contracts, as well as the duty on providers to treat their customers fairly – particularly during an exceptional period of hardship for many households. While Ofcom does not regulate retail prices, she pressed companies to think very carefully about whether significant price rises can be justified during the cost-of-living crisis.

Click here for the full press release

 

Channel website: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/

Original article link: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/news-centre/2022/record-number-of-households-struggle-to-pay-bills

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