Mark Whitehead 09 March 2023

Digitisation must not lead to ‘two-tier society’, auditor says

Digitisation must not lead to ‘two-tier society’, auditor says  image
Image: Jack Frog/Shutterstock.com.

Spending on internet infrastructure must be balanced with measures to prevent creating a two-tier society when it comes to access to services, the Welsh government says.

Its latest figures show 95% of households in Wales can receive superfast broadband but 7% of residents do not have access to the internet.

The figure is twice as high for people living in social housing and nearly double for people with long-term illness.

The Digital Strategy for Wales report sets out goals to help people gain greater confidence in using the internet and outlines Welsh government financial support to encourage inclusion.

Among reasons for people not wanting to use the internet are that the infrastructure is not available or that they can’t afford it.

Some said they lacked the skills or confidence needed, while others preferred to access services in person.

Adrian Crompton, auditor general for Wales, said a ‘key questions’ document published alongside the report would help public bodies reflect on their approach to digital inclusion.

‘The Welsh government has invested heavily in improving broadband infrastructure and the past few years have shown how reliant many of us have become on good quality internet access,’ he said.

‘However, spending on infrastructure needs to be balanced with work to tackle the root causes of digital exclusion to manage the risk of creating a two-tier society when it comes to access to public and other services.’

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