What is it?

Initially, the scheme was launched as a trial across Cheshire and Greater Manchester. Jobseekers were offered a no-contract voucher for six months of our Fibre35 broadband. The product’s usage was uncapped, meaning there were no data usage limits (save for the usual consumer fair usage constraints).

The Fibre35 product has maximum speeds of up to 40Mb/s. Users also 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.

At the end of the six-month period, customers could choose to roll onto a contract with us, or could cancel the service and incur no additional costs or sign-up fees once it came to an end.

Why are we offering it?

Whilst jobcentres remained open to support the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic, much of the training and job support was moved online, affecting many jobseekers who were struggling without a fixed internet connection during lockdown.

At TalkTalk, we believe fast and reliable connectivity should be available for the many, not just for the few. We wanted to do what we could to help and so worked with the DWP to develop a specfic product to help tackle digital exclusion and remove barriers to employment.

Following the success of this trial, which saw people secure new employment as well as undertake training opportunities, we have now rolled out the scheme on a national scale to all Jobcentre Plus work coaches across England, Scotland and Wales, and are in discussions about launching it in Northern Ireland too.

How does it work?

As part of the Flexible Support Fund, we provide 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 us directly using a dedicated number to redeem these codes. The DWP is responsible for identifying and referring participants to us based on their need.



Claire*, 54, participated in our North West trial

"I was struggling to apply for jobs due to not have enough internet access on my phone. I would either run out of data part of the way through an application or the internet would drop off and I would have to start over, which was extremely frustrating. I mentioned this to my work coach who told me about the scheme available from TalkTalk and set it up for me. I cannot describe how thankful I am for the support. To finally have stable internet has been great, especially as I’m not particularly IT literate. The scheme enabled me to increase the number of jobs applications I was able to send and resulted in finding employment.”

*Name changed for privacy reasons.

So, what does the future hold? We believe the voucher scheme could be applied more broadly to other digitally excluded communities and are exploring options with schools and councils to adapt the scheme for specific groups.