Peers call for new strategy to tackle digital exclusion
We welcome and support the Lords’ call for a new strategy. CAEE Research and Campaigns Team (3 mins)
The country needs “a credible strategy to tackle digital exclusion”. That’s the conclusion of a report* from the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee released this week.
Seeing a gap between plans for ‘global digital leadership’ and a lack of skills in the population, they quote:
- 1.7m households have no mobile or broadband at home.
- Up to 1m people have cut back or cancelled internet packages in the past year.
- 2.4m people can’t complete a single basic task to get online.
- 5m employed adults cannot complete essential work tasks. This matters when basic digital skills are set to become the UK’s largest skills gap by 2030.
Epsom & Ewell is among the least deprived local authority areas. Yet we find poor skills or lack of smart equipment exclude many clients from economic and personal development.
In the past 3 months CAEE advisers recorded help given to clients with specific online tasks on 90 occasions. These clients’ problems were many and various, from applying for a council tax reduction to seeking permission for a drop kerb. The advantages they were missing however were few but essential, notably the capacity efficiently to:
- manage information using a search engine
- communicate using messages to share information
- carry out transactions such as buying online and installing apps
- solving problems, verifying information and staying safe.
A welcome call
This report highlights citizens everywhere at risk of being left behind as the digital revolution unfolds. We welcome and support their call for a new strategy with 5 proposals.
- Protect digitally excluded people from falling further behind in the cost-of-living crisis. Example: increase supply of internet vouchers.
- More emphasis on basic skills in schools, colleges and apprenticeships.
- Boost community digital inclusion hubs, for example in libraries.
- Support smaller local telecoms providers to enhance competition.
- Ensure everyone can benefit as public services increase efficiency by adopting AI and machine learning.
* Digital Exclusion HoL Communications and Digital Committee, June 2023