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Only 33,000 people in Spain benefit from the social phone voucher

The number of beneficiaries of this aid has been reduced to one tenth in the last decade by the restriction of the conditions

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Only 33,000 people in Spain benefit from the social phone voucher

Just a few thousand subscribers, all pensioners with very low pay, are welcome to social subscription of Telefónica (official name of Bono). The figure has been dropping sharply. From half-million who were entitled to this discount at beginning of this century, it was passed to 284,000 in 2007, to 63,000 in 2013, and to 33,301 of end of 2017. The reasons for this decline are not that so-called energy poverty, which allows almost 2.5 million to enjoy a discount on bill of light, affects more citizens with less income than telephone poverty, but requirements to be able to access Telecommunications aid is much more restrictive than electricity bill.

They are only entitled to this discount on retired phone bill with low incomes, while electric bond can access unemployed, large families and or groups. Moreover, in telephony sector prices have declined considerably in recent years by effect of fierce competition, while light prices remain regulated and liberalization has scarcely been noticed.

The social subscription is not an obligation of Telefónica but a component of universal service of telecommunications, which is assigned by government to Telefónica, because no company wants to take charge of this service. This is a bonus on fixed-phone bill that can be hosted by retired and pensioners with annual income of less than 8,946.14 euros.

This group can benefit from a discount of 95% of amount of monthly payment fee, currently set at 17.40 euros/month (VAT included), of which beneficiary barely pays 0.87 cents. In addition, in case of registering a fixed telephone line you receive a 70% discount on amount of high fee.

More information
  • Government approves new electric social bond
  • Energy orders to return electrical payments for 2014 social bonus
  • Energy obliges electricity to ask for income data to its clients with social bond

The problem is that even if user meets economic requirements, he can only apply for social subscription if he has hired fixed telephone service with Telefónica in an individual way. That is, if a customer hires fixed phone packaged with anor service (ADSL, fiber, mobile or television) or even with a flat rate of fixed voice is not entitled to such discounts.

With generalization of packages and need to have an Internet connection, social subscription does not go to account for almost nobody, because it is more expensive to sign up to fixed telephone benefiting from social bond and to hire separately broadband, that to do it in A package.

For that reason, National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) has asked Ministry of Tourism, Energy and Digital Agenda to extend Social credit also to services packages (fixed, mobile, data and Internet) and not only to landline lines Individually recruited.

Competition also proposed that not only retirees, but or groups with economic difficulties (for example, long-term unemployed) could benefit from subscription and that in addition to email, fax or letter, could be requested in stores Movistar or through free phone 1004.

Cost reduction

This defection of beneficiaries of Social Credit has caused that, year after year, cost of universal service, which lends Telefónica but that cost all operators (Vodafone, Orange, MásMóvil and telephone itself). Thus, in 2015, net cost of Social credit was 6.9 million euros, 11.7% less than 7.8 million of 2014. This game has continued to decrease since 2010, when it reached 18,550,000. In 2011 it was 16,340,000; In 2012, of 10.53 and in 2013, of 9.58, according to CNMC.

Interestingly, first cut in number of beneficiaries of social subscription occurred between 2009 and 2010, when government of PSOE decided to raise minimum contributory pensions to 546.5 euros, which, for 19 euros per month, left off scale to be entitled to Bonus to thousands of pensioners.

The social subscription is main departure of universal service, which also includes maintenance of cabins or provision of telecommunications in remote and non-profitable areas. In 2015, last year for which calculation was made, it amounted to 15.1 million euros, a 13.2% less than in 2016

The Universal telecommunications service guarantees, among or things, that all users can access fixed public telephone network from any geographical location and at an affordable price. CNMC calculates cost of providing universal service annually.

The electric bond, also in danger

The electric bond can follow same steps as phone and be reduced to a minimum group. So far, 2.3 million people enjoyed it. But entry into force of a new regulation in October 2017 — which radically modified conditions to qualify for those discounts on bill — and bureaucratic problems can dramatically lower number of beneficiaries.

For moment, only 400,000 have asked ir electric companies. And Ministry of Energy has accepted only 175,000 requests, according to figures from companies and CNMC. Given this situation, Ministry of Energy has extended six months deadline, which ended on 10 April, so that consumers receiving previous social bond can apply for inclusion in new model.

Consumers who are currently hosting previous social bond will continue to enjoy up to October a discount on ir bills, which is a rebate of between 25% and 40% of invoice, depending on level of income and personal circumstances.

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