Virgin Media O2 increases data-free services list to help with the cost-of-living crisis

Virgin Media O2 increases data-free services list to help with the cost-of-living crisis
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Virgin Media O2 has boosted its list of services that customers can access for free as part of its efforts to support people during the cost-of-living crisis.

Virgin Media O2 customers will now be able to access the National Debtline, Business Debtline, Turn2us, Debt Advice Foundation, and National Energy Action without using any of their mobile data.

National Energy Action Chief Executive Adam Scorer says: “The energy crisis is already making life difficult for millions and we know that come October – when the average annual energy bill could rise to over £3,000 and the cold weather arrives – it will be even harder.”

“By offering their customers the chance to access our site without using their mobile data, Virgin Media O2 has recognised what a huge issue fuel poverty is.”

The new services join existing data-free websites including Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service, and debt charity Step Change, all of which provide a range of impartial and trusted advice to individuals struggling with debt or to manage their finances.

Jane Tully, Director of External Affairs and Partnerships at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, commented: “We are pleased to see Virgin Media O2 expand their list of services that can be accessed without using mobile data allowances, to include National Debtline and Business Debtline websites.”

“At a time when households are increasingly worried about their finances as a result of rising costs, ensuring people are able to receive the free, independent advice they need is more important than ever.  This is a positive step and should make access to a range of support websites even easier.”

The UK now has the highest inflation rate for 40 years. At 9.4 percent, it’s the worst inflation rate in the G7.

With the UK Government widely seen as failing to help struggling households, it’s come down to the actions of private companies and voluntary organisations to get the nation through this crisis.

Amid this economic turmoil, the number of people relying on food banks is growing more rapidly than ever. While no-one is going to suggest that internet access is more important than food, it is becoming increasingly vital in today’s world to access opportunities, get advice, and stay connected.

In partnership with the Good Things Foundation, Virgin Media O2 launched a “food bank for data” called the National Databank last year. The initiative aims to provide free data services to those unable to afford sufficient internet access for their essential needs.

Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We are committed to supporting all our customers and the communities we serve through the cost-of-living crisis.”

“We’ve already put in place comprehensive support measures for those hit hardest, set up a food bank for mobile data to tackle digital exclusion, and provide our customers with great value services every day as we continue to keep the country connected.”

The National Databank became a lifeline for even more people over the past year. 

The Good Things Foundation, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, and Three issued the following statement following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

“We’re deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and want to offer our support to all refugees arriving in the UK.

The UK National Databank, powered by Good Things Foundation and its partners Virgin Media O2, Vodafone and Three, will provide free mobile data to those escaping war and persecution, and who are seeking refuge in the UK.

We invite all organisations who work with refugees to sign up to the databank.”

By the end of 2023, the National Databank expects to have helped more than 200,000 people get connected.

Virgin Media was also one of the first UK broadband providers to launch a social tariff for those struggling to afford a home connection with its ‘Essential Broadband’ plan which costs £15/month, has no fixed contract term, and offers speeds of 15Mbps. The company has also pledged to connect community centres around the country to gigabit broadband and has launched a programme called Community Calling to provide devices to those in need.

While the UK Government fails to address the problems faced by an increasing number of its citizens, it’s good to see companies like Virgin Media playing their part.

If you’re struggling with your bills, Virgin Media O2 has published a guide on what it offers here.

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

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