Government provides £2m for new programme to get more people accessing services through the internet
The Welsh Government has given a fresh push to promote digital inclusion in the country, announcing a £2m million programme to replace Communities 2.0 initiative that expires at the end of this month.
The effort will be led by the Wales Co-operative Centre, which has emphasised its importance in helping people deal with Universal Credit and supporting the children of poorer families in schools.
Lesley Griffiths, Wales' minister for communities and tackling poverty, said the new programme will run for two years with the possibility of extending for a further two, and is aimed at supporting 15,000 people who are regarded as digitally excluded per year.
It will involve training and support for 400 organisations in the private, public and third sectors, recruiting 500 volunteers and helping 500 people each year to "overcome their IT barriers".
Universal Credit requirement
Wales Co-operative Centre highlighted the need to replace Communities 2.0 in its Digital Inclusion 2014 report. It said the Universal Credit system, which will gradually replace most types of benefits, is designed for people to make and manage claims online unless they are deemed to be vulnerable; but it is unclear how effective any support from the Department for Work and Pensions will be.
It also emphasised the danger of children losing ground at school if they cannot access online learning platforms from home.
Griffiths said: "The new programme will build on the success of Communities 2.0 and help more people to benefit from using the internet. It is vital we continue digital inclusion activities so everyone has the opportunity to improve their lives through the use of technology - whether it's buying goods and services more easily and for lower prices, accessing public services or increased employment opportunities."
The Welsh Government said that over the past six years its digital inclusion programme has helped move the 60,000 people get online, but that 21% of the country's adults are still excluded.
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