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Alliance calls for government action on digital poverty

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Image source: Rasadornyindee

The Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) has called on an incoming government to prioritise bridging the digital divide after the general election later this year.

The charity has carried out research with consultancy Deloitte that found one in seven adults and one in five children in the UK still suffer from digital poverty, which involves a lack of basic online connectivity, digital skills and access to devices.

Among the key findings - outlined in a subsequent report - are that 13-19 million people over the age of 16 are experiencing some form of digital poverty, it is two to three times more likely to affect people who are unemployed, and it affects around half of older adults.

It also points to benefits from solving the problem, including a £17 billion increase in annual earnings between six million people with better digital skills, an extra £4-6 billion a year as 7-9 million use digital access to manage their finances better, and £1 billion in efficiency savings for government.

Task force and actions

The DPA recommends the incoming government formalise a cross-department task force responsible for delivering and reporting on a national strategy for digital inclusion across every part of government.

It also calls for government to champion immediate, focused actions to bridge the digital divide, ensuring fair and equitable access to vital support and resources for all, including awareness raising and signposting.

Its CEO, Elizabeth Anderson, said: “Whether red or blue, the incoming government must place solving digital poverty as a central part of their manifestos and national policies. If the government continues to neglect those without essential digital services, then millions will be left behind across the UK.

“The UK continues to claim becoming a science and technology superpower as one of its core aims, but how can that happen when tens of millions can’t access basic healthcare services, education or online banking?

“The incoming government must devise a comprehensive plan to tackle the widening digital divide, featuring fast acting policies and collaboration between government, industry and the education sector. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, but we as a society can’t keep leaving digitally excluded people offline.”

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