launching new inclusive packages and asking our people to be an ally

Rebuilding a digitally-inclusive society means helping those who need it most

Our purpose at BT, to Connect For Good, has been at the heart of how we have responded to Covid. Our responsibility was first and foremost to help the nation through the pandemic – from prioritising vulnerable customers to get online, looking after customers in financial difficulty and helping children without connectivity keep up with their education.

Now we're looking beyond that with a meaningful, sustainable package that will help us rebuild a digitally-inclusive society. We have a responsibility as a national champion to help make sure no one is left behind.

That's why we're launching BT Home Essentials, our low-cost fibre package that will now include all customers on Universal Credit, to provide more than 4 million families across the UK with half-price fibre broadband and calls. BT Home Essentials will be available at half the price of our standard fibre package because fast, reliable connectivity to access vital online services – and keep in touch with loved ones – is more important than ever. It is a big step towards creating a connected UK for everyone.

The research we’ve conducted shows why now is such a crucial time to introduce our new social tariff. More than half of respondents (55 per cent) from low income homes told us connectivity is now more important than ever post-pandemic. Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of all British adults say they would struggle to improve their financial situation or job prospects without it. People are relying on home connectivity to manage their finances (79 per cent), learn new skills online (69 per cent) and access online health services (50 per cent). All things people cannot live without.

I've recently asked all of my colleagues across BT’s Consumer division to focus on being an ally. A Personal Ally.

What I mean by that is making an effort to treat everyone, colleagues and customers like they want to be treated. This is what being a Personal Ally is all about. To serve our customers brilliantly – to be more Personal – we need to understand them brilliantly.

If we are all really honest, we will say we don’t always know what it’s like. We can’t unless we have experienced this ourselves. But what we can do is try a lot harder to understand what it’s like. So I have asked everyone in BT's Consumer division to do two things. First, I want us all to understand our colleagues and customers who are different from us better than we do today – be interested in them, listen to them, learn more about them and why they are different. This is really treating them like they really want to be treated.

Second, I want us all to take action: we can all in different ways can make a difference to someone and set the tone for others to follow.

As part of this focus, and in response to the growing number of people who have found their life circumstances change over the past 18 months, BT is providing all of its 12,000 customer service colleagues with extra training to better identify those who require assistance and help keep them connected, as part of our Here For You campaign. Here for You brings together BT’s wide range of products and services for those who need extra help in one easy-to-navigate place, and also includes a series of videos that seek to explain the support BT offers. Here For You also includes information about the latest accessibility options and priority services for customers with long-term illnesses or disabilities, advice for dealing with scams and the Home Essentials social tariff.

We are the connectivity partner that can make a difference. For the most vulnerable in society, the past year has been incredibly challenging. At BT and EE, we believe we have a responsibility not only to our customers but to society more broadly, and our efforts since the start of the pandemic continue as we pursue a path out of lockdown.

We will be an ally – and help make the UK truly digitally-inclusive.

Marc Allera, CEO BT’s Consumer Division

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @marcallera