Digital exclusion exists for a fifth of Scotland’s most vulnerable
Those in need less likely to access vital services online, research finds.
Around 21% of adults in Scotland still do not have basic digital skills, according to research published today by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).
With the support of the Scottish Government, SCVO’s Digital Team has been leading a cross-sector response to digital exclusion through Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter – which 400 organisations have signed up to – and their Charter Fund has provided over £1million of funding to local projects to tackle digital exclusion, directly supporting 15,000 high-need individuals to gain basic digital skills.
By reviewing lessons learned through these funded projects and reviewing wider research conducted in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland, findings have now been released about digital exclusion in Scotland.
While the findings show that eight out of ten people use the internet on a daily basis, it also highlights that those who lack confidence or are unable to afford connectivity are being left behind.
People who are most in need of support from public services – including those on low incomes, those with disabilities and older people – are amongst the least likely to be able to access information and opportunities online. Overall, 21% of adults in Scotland still do not have the basic digital skills that enable them to realise the full range of social and economic benefits the internet can bring.
SCVO’s Digital Director David McNeill believes the answer lies in a broader approach to social exclusion: “Ambitions to deliver more public services online, particularly welfare and benefits, risk further disenfranchising people who already face multiple forms of social exclusion. We are calling on organisations across the public, private and third sectors working with older people, disabled people and those on low incomes to sign Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter and join a national movement to tackle digital exclusion.”
Edinburgh-based charity People Know How received £10,000 from the Charter Fund in April 2017, which is now being used to help hundreds of people of all ages gain digital skills and the confidence to use technology to help improve their lives.
Founder Glenn Liddall said: “We have helped people with things like applying for college, housing applications and applying for Disability Living Allowance. It is absolutely crucial that these people are not forgotten about – digital skills are directly linked to poverty. If people can’t use basic computer skills and the internet then they are already missing out on a whole raft of things.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Getting more people online in Scotland returns a range of social, cultural and economic benefits and is crucial to our future growth and success. We are working with several organisations, including SCVO, to improve digital participation across Scotland’s communities and ensure digital technology is not allowed to reinforce social and economic inequalities.”
The full findings can be found at https://digitalparticipation.scot/resources/reports.