Election: Long-Bailey outlines ‘benefits’ of free broadband
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These days it’s almost impossible to get a job without access to the internet, so a new voucher scheme has been launched to make sure British people aren’t excluded from job opportunities just because they can’t get online. The scheme will mean people who are out of work will be given a free six month voucher for TalkTalk’s Fibre35 broadband by the DWP. Here’s all you need to know.
While DWP job centres remained open to support the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic, most of the training and job support was moved online.
It highlighted just how important an internet connection was for those seeking employment and started a conversation between the DWP and broadband provider TalkTalk.
At the start of the second lockdown, TalkTalk and the DWP trialled the voucher scheme in Greater Manchester and Cheshire to support jobseekers who were stuck at home.
Following the trial’s success, TalkTalk is now rolling out the scheme on a national scale which will mean all Jobcentre Plus work coaches will now be able to offer it to jobseekers across the country.
Mims Davies, Minister for Employment, said it was an important initiative and would help to level up opportunities for everyone.
She said: “We want to support jobseekers in any way we can on their journey to securing employment, which includes levelling up opportunities by making sure they are digitally connected and can access the full range of support offered by our Plan for Jobs and our JobHelp website.”
Daniel Kasmir, Chief People and Procurement Officer at TalkTalk agreed and added that it was working hard to ‘erase the UK’s digital divide’.
He said: “We believe that reliable broadband is a right not a privilege. However, many people across the UK are struggling to access the internet, with the effects of the pandemic leading to the number of Universal Credit claimants doubling within a year.”
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He continued: “The successful trial of this scheme in the North West demonstrates the value of broadband to those seeking jobs.
“Working with the DWP to roll this scheme out nationally supports our mission to democratise the internet and bring affordable, high-quality connectivity to everyone, helping to erase the UK’s digital divide.”
Will I qualify for free broadband and how does it work?
The DWP is responsible for identifying and referring participants based on their need.
As part of the Flexible Support Fund, TalkTalk provides referral codes to the DWP.
These codes are then passed onto eligible customers so they can use them to pre-pay for the service from the fund.
The customers then call TalkTalk directly using a dedicated number to redeem the code.
Jobseekers are offered a no-contract voucher for six months and the product’s usage is uncapped, meaning there are no data usage limits.
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At the end of the six-month period, customers can choose to roll onto a contract with TalkTalk, or cancel the service without incurring any additional costs.
Meanwhile, TalkTalk believes the voucher scheme could be applied more broadly to other digitally excluded communities if this initiative goes well.
It’s looking at working with schools and councils to adapt the scheme for specific groups.
About 1.5 million homes in the UK still do not have internet access, a report by Ofcom has found.
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