Digital Exclusion: A Government Funded Solution

The Fair Internet Report, from July 2023, has some sobering figures about the connectivity in Devon. The average internet speed is 32% lower than the national UK average. However, many of our clients struggle with digital connectivity before they even get to this point. We know that a significant number of people have limited ability to access or use digital services safely as shown by our client data below:

limited or no access to broadband
(no active and reliable internet
connection or sufficient data/credit)
little or no ability or confidence
using digital technology (unable
to find information, download/use
apps, send emails and attachments,
understand data, use video calls).
limited or no access
to technology (tablet,
smartphone or laptop)

This has resulted in clients being, for example, syphoned off into fee-paying agreements because they did not understand where they had been directed to online and thought that they were dealing with a reputable provider. Safety is a huge issue for our clients online, because many are not knowledgeable enough to know the pitfalls. They find it hard to manage a remote account or an automated phone menu that has a lengthy waiting time. Companies are increasingly moving all contact to online provision which is simply impossible for many of our client group.

We saw some progress during the pandemic with the likes of Vodafone, BT and Virgin (amongst others available here) offering social tariffs at reduced costs. The most recent development is the partnership between Talk Talk and DWP giving free broadband to jobseekers for six months. DWP requires all jobseekers on Universal Credit to maintain contact via an online journal which can be extremely difficult for those without access to the internet, ultimately making a difficult period in their life even more so. We at Navigate applaud this scheme as it will also help our clients to more easily and effectively communicate with creditors such as energy companies, banks and other support agencies in their pursuit of becoming debt free and more financially resilient.

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