This is my speech from Tinder Foundation’s Digital Evolution: Building a digital nation conference.
We’re all here as we share the same passion and the same ambition. We all want everyone in the UK to have the opportunities and benefits of digital.
It wouldn’t be the Tinder Foundation conference if we didn’t launch our annual infographic with all the stats and facts you need if you’re thinking about digital inclusion. That great chasm – that cleft, an abyss – between the people who benefit from basic digital skills and those who don’t is a fitting metaphor for the divided society we live in and the wasted opportunity that we as a nation are facing.
This year there are a few differences – and one is the number of people lacking basic digital skills has gone up! It’s a good thing .. believe me. Thanks to our very good friends at Go On UK we now have a clear definition of the five basic digital skills and a robust measure of who’s lacking them. 12.6m people – that’s 1 in 5 adults who need support.
Of course it’s a picture of exclusion but it’s also important to have the stats on the benefits too. A report we published earlier this week shows the economic benefit to the NHS for everyone having basic digital skills is £131 million a year.
We commissioned economists CEBR to measure the net present value of everyone in the UK having basic digital skills. Digital is an amazing benefit but also a huge threat as it levels the playing field and makes the economic competition truly global.
Here’s the maths. Taking the cost of investment, the benefits to people and to government the NPV (net present value) is over £14 billion, or £2.5 bn a year from 2024. We’re facing a new industrial revolution and digital is the architect – with all jobs and all workplaces underpinned by digital.
Today is the spending review announcement we know that Cameron has already pledged £1.7 bn in broadband over the next five years, let’s see today if George Osborne will announce investment in the people and the new basic skills they need to use that infrastructure and to fuel this new, digital £2.5 bn annual productivity boost.
Let’s not talk about digital inclusion – it makes people think of technology and this is a revolution about people. It’s not digital inclusion, it’s about transforming people’s lives, and about building a stronger economy.
It’s about people like Pat and Wendy who use digital to make the NHS work better for them and to improve their health and Mike who had no hope for a job moving to multiple job offers. It’s about transforming their lives and the hundreds and thousands of people helped every day across the country by organisations – community organisations and libraries – like many of you in the room today.
Every single person having the opportunity to be part of this digital revolution, every person making our economy stronger.