Support to keep children connected for home learning during lockdown

06 January 2021

With millions of children across the UK now learning from home, Ofcom has published a guide to the support available to make sure families can get online and children can continue their education.

Each of the UK’s nations now have restrictions in place that mean all schools are currently closed, with some exceptions for children of key workers and those who are vulnerable.

Families across the country are relying on their internet connections so their children can join online lessons and complete their work. This will be a difficult time for many – particularly those who have limited access to the internet or online devices, including the 7% of households that rely on a mobile phone to use the internet.

The UK Government has committed to providing further devices to help children get online, while phone and broadband companies have stepped in to help people stay connected.

Throughout the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we have worked closely with providers to make sure people continue to have access to the services they need. This includes supporting people who find themselves in financial difficulty due to the coronavirus – making sure customers do not lose their services at a time when they need them most.

We published guidance last year on how industry can best support customers who might be in vulnerable circumstances, and we expect companies to follow this guidance when dealing with customers affected by the coronavirus.

Helping to keep customers connected

Many companies have taken action so customers can continue to get online easily – whether it’s to work from home or for children to learn online. For example:

  • All major broadband companies have removed data caps on their broadband packages. So, parents can be confident their children can access online learning without restrictions on how much data they use and without any increase in their broadband costs.
  • Some broadband providers offer special tariffs for certain customers,    such as those on low incomes. We have urged all providers to make these packages available, if they don’t already. Contact your provider to see if a special tariff is available and if you are eligible.
  • A small proportion of UK households do not have a broadband connection and are reliant on mobile connections to get online. To help keep these people connected, a number of mobile companies have increased data allowances on their tariffs for free, including those taking part in a UK Government initiative to help disadvantaged children without access to a laptop.

We welcome these actions and will continue to work with telecoms companies and governments in the UK so families get the support they need, at a time when people are relying on their broadband and phones more than ever.

If you are struggling to pay your phone or broadband bills due to the coronavirus, you should get in touch with your provider as soon as possible, as a range of support is on offer.

Our Stay Connected advice also provides information on how you can get the most out of your phone and broadband services – even when multiple people are online at home, at the same time.