Gwynedd highlights Universal Credit in digital push

Council partnership with Citizens Online aims to boost digital skills in rural communities

A Welsh local authority has pointed to the need for people to access Universal Credit online as one of the reasons for an effort to improve digital skills among local residents.

Computer_Keyboard_MacroGwynedd Council has launched Digital Resilience, a partnership with the charity Citizens Online, to improve the relevant skills of people in the county.

Outlining the move, Councillor Mandy Williams-Davies, cabinet member for economy, pointed to the new benefit being introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions.

“It is anticipated that there will be changes to benefits by introducing Universal Credit that affects a number of people in Gwynedd, access to a computer or tablet device as well as having digital skills are essential in order to make claims for universal credit,” she said.

The partnership has just announced a work programme with two priorities: to use digital opportunities to reduce poverty in the county; and to improve digital skills in rural communities.

Poverty correlation

“There is a clear correlation between poverty and poor digital skills and improving those skills is an integral part of our strategy to tackle poverty,” Willams-Davies said.

“This is where Digital Resilience has a crucial role to play. We are determined to equip all our people to take full advantage of opportunities offered by the latest digital developments.

“For those who are out of work, the internet is an invaluable tool for job hunting, and computer literacy becoming more important by the day as a key skill.”

The partnership’s analysis of the Gwynedd population suggests that one in three households are at risk of digital exclusion, with the majority of these classified either as older people or those living in remote rural areas.

The project has received funding through One Digital, a national consortium committed to improving digital skills funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Image: Joseph L Ridgway II, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons