Winning the race for a digital nation. Because we’re worth it!

Earlier today, at The Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster, we got together with some of our friends to launch a new report – A leading digital nation by 2020 . I loved meeting partners from grassroots communities around the country as well as partners from the private sector, national charities and Government departments. A melting pot of ideas and people very committed to this common vision – an enriching mix of people in a glorious venue.

It was last summer when this journey began, when I was asked a few times by a few different people “how much?” That’s, how much would it cost to help everyone in the UK to get the basic online skills that they need. Martha (Lane Fox) agreed that it was a question worth answering, being the counterfoil to the other question she, Go ON UK, and Booz & Co had answered “£63 billion” to the question “what’s the total potential benefit of the UK becoming a leading digital nation in the global economy?”. The report is a good read and not too long.

We needed some expert help so we commissioned Catherine MacDonald, who had done stints at the National Audit Office and Ernst & Young, to work with us, to consult some key people, and to build a mathematical model where we could test certain assumptions and calculate the investment needed.

It was great that through the consultation, the working group decided we should be ambitious: we wanted to included 100% of the UK population, we wanted them all to become regular internet users with Basic Online Skills, and we wanted this to happen by 2020.

The total investment needed to make this ambition a reality is £875 million.

Having established a price, the report goes on to suggest the investment is split three ways – across the public, private and voluntary and community sectors.  That’s £292 million for each sector.  Or, £50 million per year, per sector (cash and in-kind) over the 6 years until 2020.

Let’s think about the inputs:

  • 11 million – number of people in 2013 who don’t have basic online skills
  • £875 million – investment needed to help 100% of the population gain the internet skills they need by 2020
  • £292 million – investment split across the three sectors
  • £50 million – annual investment over 6 years required from each of the public, private, and voluntary and community sectors
  • £47 – £319 – calculated range of costs of intervention per person, depending on people’s historical use of the internet and other considerations
  • 89% – percentage of the UK online in 2020 without additional and accelerated investment.

And now, let’s think of the outcomes that will deliver:

  • £108 million – estimated savings for the NHS if just 1% of their face-to-face visits were converted to NHS Choices visits
  • £1.7 million – Government Digital Service figure on potential savings per annum of a digital by default government
  • £560 – potential average of household savings if a family starts to shop and pay bills online
  • £63 billion – Booz & Co total figure for the potential benefit of becoming a leading digital nation in the global economy.

I will leave you to read the report, and do your own maths. The report and mathematical model are both on the Tinder Foundation website.

Thank you to The Speaker for having us at his home to launch this important report. Thank you to everyone who has helped us on this journey, especially Go ON UK for their partnership. All we need to do now is agree that we want to make the vision a reality. A vision of 100% of our citizens with Basic Online Skills and the UK as a leading digital nation by 2020. Let’s be ambitious and let’s get on with it. It’s a race we can win.

Measuring our impact: a ‘wow’ moment

We’ve always put a strong emphasis on measuring what we do, and we know some of the impact we have is pretty impressive. Recently, I mentioned one of our more impressive statistics, and it was nice to see the person I was talking to have a “wow” moment at this impact, so I thought it was something worth sharing more widely!

We know we’ve helped 1.2 million people to gain basic online skills since 2010, which is pretty amazing for a lot of reasons – it’s helped them get into work, learn more, save money and connect with friends and family. It’s also helped them to reach other outcomes – most notably, moving transactions with government from face-to-face or telephone channels to online ones. And this is where the ‘wow’ moment comes in. The cumulative saving of all of these people moving these transactions online over the last 46 months has resulted in a total saving to government of £232.5 million!

The person who said ‘wow’ when they heard this number asked how we’d figured this out, and as a details person, I think I’d have asked the same! So for those of you who are interested in seeing how we got to this figure, the workings are below.

Numbers this big can sometimes seem hard to get your head around, but the fact that over 50% of people are going on to do more complex tasks – like transacting with government online – shows the real value the UK online centres network is providing in supporting people to improve their skills.

We also know there are loads of other great outcomes around the impact getting online has as this is something we’re measuring all the time, 52 weeks a year. We see thousands of people moving from unemployment to employment, from poor health to better health and from no qualifications to gained their first qualifications, all thanks to the skills they’ve gained. This shows the huge impact we are having on individuals, at scale, across the country

The workings

Socitm has calculated that every time someone shifts their method of contact with government from a face-to-face transaction to an online transaction, the government saves £8.47, and from telephone to online, they save £2.68.

Our surveys tell us that between 46%/51% (46% from April 2010 – March 2012, and 51% from April 2012 to current) of our learners make that channel shift, and on average perform 3.8 contacts per month with government as a result. These transactions accumulate, as those who got online last month begin moving their transactions online, and those who got online in April 2010 are continuing to transact with government month-in, month-out online.

Therefore the savings achieved for learners we’ve helped since 1 April 2010 are £232.4m.