Leading academics have called for urgent action to be taken to tackle the digital divide as research shows there are nine million adults in the UK who can’t use the internet without help.
A new study from the University of Manchester has revealed that as well as nine million adults unable to use the internet without support, there is a stark North/South divide, with 53% of people in the North East and 41% in the North West rarely or never using the internet compared to 35% in the South East.
On Digital Inequalities aims to identify the impacts of this digital divide on healthcare, education, employment, the economy and many other areas – as well as suggesting ways to address it.
The publication calls for a number of actions to be taken, including suppling free-to-use digital devices and internet access to those in need and increasing funding for support programmes to get people online.
‘Just as we’ve heard the Prime Minister’s roadmap for coming out of lockdown, we now need a roadmap for fixing the digital divide as a social and economic priority,’ said Helen Milner OBE, group chief executive of Good Things Foundation, who supplies the foreword in the publication.
‘No longer should people have to make the choice between data and food – we know from our community partners that some people have had to make this choice in the last year.
‘It’s time for the UK to have a truly inclusive digital strategy - we need an ambition for a levelled-up 100% digital-included nation, and sustainable solutions to data poverty.’