An inquiry has been launched by the Lords Communications Committee to try to help the digitally excluded as the UK’s cost of living crisis persists.
The committee will examine the causes of digital exclusion, as well as the social and economic impact of people unable to access or use digital devices and services.
It will also try to determine how the cost of living crisis will affect digital exclusion in the UK and possibly prevent the problem from being solved.
Tina Stowell, chair of the committee, said, “The capacity and resources to operate effectively online are increasingly vital for everyone. Many aspects of life now operate exclusively online. Addressing the digital divide will be key to ensuring economic growth and prosperity. It’s clear that for many people there are significant barriers to operating effectively online.
“These barriers can include a lack of confidence, lack of digital skills, poor access to proper broadband, and poverty preventing access to equipment or the internet,” she said. “The last of these is likely to be compounded by current cost-of-living pressures.”
Digital is becoming an increasingly important part of everyday life, but many in the UK still have neither the basic digital skills needed for work and lifeor a device that allows them to access the Internet.
In London alone, an estimated 270,000 people have no internet or digital access, and around two million may have a device but cannot log in or use online servicesleaving many behind in a world where some services are now digital-only.
Highlighting that Covid-19 has already exacerbated the digital divide, the committee also wants to determine whether the rising cost of living will also affect digital exclusion, and whether digital exclusion means people are more affected by the rising cost of life – the recent Lloyds Digital Consumer Index found that 35% of respondents said the cost of living would make it harder for them to go online.
The committee will consider whether current government and industry efforts are helping to address the digital divide, what improvements could be made to make interventions more effective, and whether there are any policy changes that could be made to improve the digital divide. exclusion over the next. at five years old.
Many have already tried to tackle this problem. Last year, the Good Things Foundation and JP Morgan launched the Power Up Campaignoffering a £1.5m fund spread across 15 projects with the aim of improving digital skills across the UK to increase social inclusion.
The Communications Committee will also consider interventions such as those being made outside of government to support those who are digitally excluded, how these initiatives can be better supported and what would be the right balance between government and wider society to increase the amount of digital inclusion in the UK.
Part of the survey will also look at whether methods used to tackle digital exclusion in other countries could be useful in the UK.
The Lords Communications Committee will be take written contributions to its investigation until March 7, 2023.