The project is being paid for by the government and is meant to help people find work by removing one of the common barriers – lack of reliable, affordable broadband
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Jobseekers can get free TalkTalk internet for six months under a new government scheme.
The deal will see jobseekers get free Fibre35 broadband, provided they are looking for work and have a JobCentre work coach.
It’s being paid for by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which hopes it will help users find work and remove one of the main barriers to that – a lack of reliable internet.
The deal gives average internet speeds of 38 megabytes a second.
At the end of the six months customers can let the deal roll on to be a paid-for contract with TalkTalk, or else cancel.
There are no data caps, but users will be expected to use normal levels of data.
During the pandemic much face-to-face training and job support moved online, making an internet connection even more important.
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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.
TalkTalk is now rolling out the scheme on a national scale to all Jobcentre Plus work coaches to offer jobseekers.
The scheme works as a sort of voucher.
TalkTalk gives a number of 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.
TalkTalk thinks the voucher scheme could be rolled out further to other people that struggle to access the internet. It will work with schools and councils to see if others can be helped in the same way.
TalkTalk chief people & procurement officer Daniel Kasmir said: “We believe that reliable broadband is a right not a privilege.
“The successful trial of this scheme in the North West demonstrates the value of broadband to those seeking jobs.”
Employment minister Mims Davies 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.”
The cut-price internet package, Home Essentials, gives fibre broadband and calls for £15 a month.
BT claims this will save customers £240 a year compared to similar deals.
Customers will need to be on Universal Credit or other means-tested benefits to apply for the BT package.
That means you have to get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance.
More than half of Brits (56%) feel more vulnerable now compared to the start of the pandemic, with one in three (30%) needing extra financial help, the telecoms firm said.