The issue

A man presenting to an audience a graph

Digital inclusion and exclusion

Digital inclusion is about ensuring the benefits of the internet and digital technologies are available to everyone.

Digitally-excluded people are often older and/or have low educational attainment. Excluded people can lack skills, confidence and motivation, along with having limited or no access to equipment and connectivity. This can create additional layers of social exclusion and exacerbate social and economic problems. Getting online is usually life-enhancing and it can be life-changing!

Data on digital exclusion in the UK

Estimates for the proportion and number of people who are digitally excluded in the UK vary. The ONS annual survey of internet users estimated in 2017 that 11.1% of UK adults had either never used the internet, or last used it over 3 months ago. That’s 5.8 million people.

Digital inclusion isn’t only about whether people can access the internet: it’s also about their ability to use it. 21% (11.5m) of UK adults are classified as not having all five Basic Digital Skills, according to 2016 research by Ipsos Mori for the 2017 Lloyds Consumer Digital Index.

The Tech Partnership’s Basic Digital Skills document (pdf) provides more detail on the basic digital skills model, and how it applies to both individuals and organisations.

For more statistics, see the GOV.uk Digital Inclusion Dashboard.

Interpreting the data

Digital inclusion statistics are useful for developing strategies, but they can sometimes appear contradictory, and there are a variety of potential sources. We can help you understand national statistics and what the data say about the risk of digital exclusion in your local area: contact us.

The vital importance of partnership

a young man with tattoos helps an older man with a digital tablet

The best way to help digitally-excluded people is to provide timely and informal support in convenient venues, and look for the “hook” (like a hobby or specific need) rather than focusing on the technology in itself.

The larger issue that holds back digital inclusion is the resourcing of this support. How, in an era of cuts and squeezed budgets, can sufficient resources be found to tackle such a complex issue? The answer is through partnership and collaboration.

Partnership is an essential foundation for digital inclusion strategies. No organisation can solve this issue alone. A successful digital inclusion strategy and action plan will be based on:

  • Knowing what current partners are already doing and what they have to offer;
  • Ensuring that the specific needs of individual partners are understood and met;
  • Finding a way to work together to resource provision and plug any gaps.

Citizens Online have worked with a variety of partners such as Local Authorities, Housing Associations, Job Centre Plus, regional health organisations (e.g. Clinical Commissioning Groups, regional economic organisations), businesses, and third sector organisations including those providing advice, guidance and training.

Each different partner we work with brings a unique value to digital inclusion work, and each will have their particular needs.

Contact us

Whatever organisation you work for, if you think we can help you achieve your goals, please get in touch with us.