Getting jobseekers online
At the beginning of the November 2020 lockdown, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Cheshire approached TalkTalk to discuss their concerns surrounding jobseekers without home broadband. DWP were finding that their customers without home broadband were struggling without access to the public services such as libraries, that they relied on to get online. Jobseekers still needed to look for and apply for work during the lockdown, and with much of that effort done increasingly online, those without internet were becoming severely disadvantaged.
Knowing that some vulnerable groups are unable to access their standard broadband services, TalkTalk decided to partner with DWP as a way for government and the private sector to collaborate to build a more digitally inclusive society. TalkTalk designed a new tailored social product for DWP to offer to its customers, to help overcome this issue and get jobseekers online. TalkTalk launched a pilot programme with DWP in Cheshire and Greater Manchester in January this year, and it has now expanded to a nationwide project.
What is the product and how does it work?
The product is a superfast broadband connection, offering speeds of up to 39mbps and with no usage cap. The product is provided free of cost to the user for six months and does not require the end customer to sign a contract or complete a credit check.
DWP job coaches identify eligible customers to receive the package and refers these customers to TalkTalk. TalkTalk has established a dedicated customer journey to meet the needs of DWP customers to ensure they are able to access the package.
DWP covers the upfront costs using funding from the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) which aims to remove barriers to employment for DWP customers, to purchase the packages.
There’s no contract commitment at the end of the six-month period, with customers having the option of rolling onto a TalkTalk contract or cancelling the service at no additional cost.
Success and next steps
The pilot programme was deemed a success by both DWP and TalkTalk and as a result was rolled out to jobcentres nationally from June 2021.
The pilot has been successful in supporting jobseekers into employment, it has also played an important role in supporting learning and development opportunities for both organisations.
Whilst providing access to vital online services offered by the DWP and allowing customers to apply for jobs online, the voucher scheme has also enabled those who use it to feel less isolated throughout the pandemic and to keep in touch with friends and family online. The voucher has therefore been a lifeline for some, who would have been isolated without internet access.
Exploring the benefits of the scheme, both in terms of allowing people to apply for jobs, and more socially allowing them to feel less isolated has meant that TalkTalk and DWP are now considering routes to promote the programme more widely to support families in need, including through schools and local authorities.
How to access this product
This product is available to people on Universal Credit via jobcentres. If you are eligible, speak to your Job Coach about accessing this product.
In Greater Manchester, we have strong ambitions to tackle digital exclusion and get all residents online. To deliver this ambition the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce was set up, bringing together our digital ecosystem of industry, VCSE sector, public sector partners, local government, schools and health to work together to fix the digital divide across Greater Manchester.
TalkTalk and DWP are both active members of the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce. The Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce was set up to deliver ambitions to tackle digital exclusion and get residents online. The taskforce brings together industry, VCSE sector, public sector partners, local government, schools and health to work together to fix the digital divide across Greater Manchester. This partnership between TalkTalk and DWP is an example of how organisations can collaborate to tackle the digital divide.
BLOG: Tackling digital exclusion in Wigan
The Digital Wigan team is part of Wigan Council, the team works closely with Wigan Borough’s community to support residents to develop essential digital skills.