Connectivity provider TalkTalk is rolling out a new voucher scheme that gives jobseekers across the UK free access to high-quality broadband. The programme, offered in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), aims to tackle digital exclusion and remove barriers to employment across the UK.
Jobseekers are offered a no-contract voucher for six months of TalkTalk’s Fibre35 broadband. The product’s usage is uncapped, meaning there are no data usage limits (save for the usual consumer fair usage constraints). At the end of the six-month period, customers can choose to roll onto a contract with TalkTalk, or can cancel the service and will incur no additional costs or sign-up fees once it comes to an end.*
While DWP jobcentres remained open to support the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic, many of the training and job support was moved online – making an internet connection even more important. As a result, TalkTalk and the DWP trialled the voucher in Greater Manchester and Cheshire at the start of the second UK lockdown last year, to support jobseekers who were stuck at home.
Following a successful trial in the North West, which saw people secure new employment as well as undertake training opportunities, TalkTalk is now rolling out the scheme on a national scale to all Jobcentre Plus work coaches to offer jobseekers.
As part of the Flexible Support Fund, TalkTalk provides referral codes to the DWP, which the DWP distributes to eligible customers so they can use them to pre-pay the service from the fund. The customers then call TalkTalk directly using a dedicated number to redeem these codes. The DWP is responsible for identifying and referring participants based on their need.
Daniel Kasmir, Chief People & Procurement Officer at TalkTalk said:
“We believe that reliable broadband is a right not a privilege. However, many people across the UK are struggling to access to the internet, with the effects of the pandemic leading to the number of Universal Credit claimants doubling within a year.
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.”
Mims Davies, Minister for Employment, 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.”
TalkTalk believes the voucher scheme could be applied more broadly to other digitally excluded communities and will be exploring options with schools and councils to adapt the scheme for specific groups.
The Fibre35 product has maximum speeds of up to 40Mb/s. Users will benefit from wi-fi connection across the whole household via a router and security and online safety packages are included as part of the service.
*Provided all equipment is returned via the prepaid returns service.