Telecommunications: Contracts

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written question – answered at on 4 April 2023.

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Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Independent, Newcastle upon Tyne East

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, whether her Department has made an estimate of the number of telecoms customers who had mid-contract price increases above inflation in the last 12 months.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Ofcom has a statutory duty to monitor consumer trends in the telecoms sector, and it most recently reported on this in its Pricing Trends Report 2022. While not all providers have implemented price rises, the majority of consumers are likely to have been subject to in-contract price increases in the last 12 months. However, it is not possible to more accurately estimate this due to many households having multiple, bundled contracts across different suppliers.

This is clearly a difficult time for families up and down the country who are struggling to pay their bills as a result of the global rise in the cost of living. To support people to stay connected, leaders from broadband and mobile operators agreed on a set of commitments. These include allowing households, who may be mid-contract but struggling with their bills, to switch to cheaper packages without penalty.

On 23 January, the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology met with chief executives from major broadband providers and made clear her concerns about the impact price rises may have on those who are struggling due to the rise in the cost of living. On 9 February 2023, Ofcom launched a review into the transparency of in-contract price rises. We will review Ofcom’s findings once this work has been completed.

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