Dear Mr Vaizey …

Dear Mr Vaizey

I was watching you give evidence to the BIS Select Committee yesterday on the digital economy and I heard you say: “When people say that 20% of people are digitally excluded it doesn’t ring true, it doesn’t capture the nuances and frankly some people just don’t want to be online”.

I thought you might like to have a neat summary of what the numbers say. You’re right to say the picture is nuanced – and it really depends if someone is looking at whether someone has ‘ever’ used the internet or alternatively if they actually have the basic digital skills to use the web to help them with their work, life, and play.

12.6 million adults in GB lack basic digital skills (that’s 23% of all GB adults). The five basic digital skills are: managing information; communicating; transacting; creating; problem solving. Go ON UK/Ipsos MORI, Basic Digital Skills UK Report 2015
11.1 million people in the UK have low digital capability. This is an indicator of actual digital behaviours such as: very little evidence of online shopping; no managing money online; no streaming or content. Lloyds Banking Group, Consumer Digital Index, 2016
11% of adults (5.9 million) have never used the internet. ONS, Statistical Bulletin: Internet Users, 2015
14% of adults are not recent internet users. ONS, Statistical Bulletin: Internet Users2015
14% of adults in the UK are non-users of the internet. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
86% of households in Great Britain (22.5 million) have internet connected at home. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
51% of adults use a smartphone to go online outside of the home. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
67% of adults go online at home and elsewhere; and 17% of internet users (over 15 years) only go online at home. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
Smartphones and tablets supplement rather than substitute computer use, with just 6% only using smartphone and tablet devices to go online at home or elsewhere. This rises to 10% among DEs. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
The busiest 7-day period saw 14.4m unique visitors to pages at Gov.UK – this represents approximately 22% of the UK population. Activity on GOV.UK: web traffic
51% individuals interacted online with public authorities within the last 12 months. The European Broadband Scorecard Q1, 2015 via Ofcom
98% of under 45 year olds have at least one basic digital skill and 89% have all five basic digital skills. Go ON UK, Basic Digital Skills UK Report 2015
98% of under 45 year olds go online anywhere. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
23% of under 45 year olds carry out 10 or less types of activities online. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015
80% of internet users in social group DE carry out 10 or less activities online. Ofcom, Adult’s Media Use and Attitudes, 2015

You also said that there are people who just don’t want to use the internet and don’t have a compelling reason to use it. According to ONS (2015) 53% of people who don’t have the internet at home (or via mobile) say they don’t have a connection because they ‘did not need it’. In comparison, other barriers are less with 32% indicating that no connection was due to a lack of skills; and high equipment costs and access costs are also a barrier to 12% and 11% of households respectively.

Working to communicate the benefits of the internet to those who don’t see them currently, will continue to be really important.

Hope you find these numbers useful in further understanding the broad digital engagement landscape.

Best wishes,


New status, same mission

I am very pleased to say that we’ve received the significant notification that we’ve been granted registered charity status by The Charity Commission. Becoming a charity is something we’ve long talked about at Tinder Foundation as it fits with our ethos of supporting people to improve their lives for the better, something we do on a daily basis together with our hard working network of community partners. While our ethos has always been charitable, it has had one distinct twist – with staff playing a key role in the organisation’s decision making through sitting on the board, and being Members of the organisation voting on all key decisions. For us, if we were to become a charity it was vital that we were able to retain our mutual status, as this really sums up what we stand for – that everyone’s opinion matters. And as Members (that’s all the staff and the rest of our Board), we’ve all voted to become a charity.

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The team and the Board celebrating our fourth birthday at our AGM in December 2015


This is a really big deal, and I want to shout about it. Persuading the charity commission that we’re able to have paid employees on our Board, and persuading them that’s a good thing and will make for better decision making and better outcomes, was hard. But we’re always proud to be pushing the boundaries if that impacts in something that’s better.

We even got a quote from the Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, for our press release: “It is inspiring to see the Tinder Foundation breaking new ground and embracing its new charity status. By becoming a charity as well as retaining its mutual status, Tinder Foundation is helping hundreds of people to become more involved in their communities while also helping to build a more compassionate society.”

The journey has been a long and challenging one, and I’d really like to thank the Members of Tinder Foundation who have led on this endeavour. There’s always more work to be done and becoming a charity was just another step in our mission to reach the 12.6 million socially excluded people without digital skills across the UK.

Security and fear – it’s time to educate

This morning I was invited to a very insightful panel discussion run by TalkTalk in partnership with Freud Communications about cybercrime. Cybercrime and issues around internet security have been on the rise recently; from Sony to TalkTalk themselves. Google and McAfee estimate there are 2000 cyberattacks every day around the world, costing the global economy about £300bn a year. A journal which I picked up today at the event (The Brewery Journal – well worth a read) reflects these figures: according to the 2015 UK Crime Survey there were an estimated 5.1 million cybercrimes and frauds last year in the UK alone, costing the UK economy £27 billion a year. It all seems very scary, but significantly lowering these figures is not impossible; we just need to educate.

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Image courtesy of The Brewery Journal


“97% of cybercrimes happen due to human frailty”

This is what Matt Hancock MP, the government minister who is responsible for cybersecurity, said this morning and he’s not wrong. Digital is something that isn’t going away and it’s really important for people to be smart and informed on the approaches they need to take when using the internet.

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Image courtesy of The Brewery Journal


I regularly meet vulnerable and socially excluded people when I visit our community partners, and they have concerns about internet security.

Our very popular resources on Learn My Way are great for educating learners about cybersecurity. In our beginners section we have Using the Internet Safely to introduce newbies to the dangers surrounding the internet and tell them the right steps to take to avoid these dangers. For those who are ready to move on to the more advanced stuff we’ve got Staying Safe Online and Keeping Your Information Safe, which show learners how to keep their tech safe from viruses. It’s also really important that we’ve backed hints and tips on keeping safe inside our other relevant online courses – we don’t expect people to know they need to do the explicit safety courses – we support them to keep their data safe on Facebook (in the Facebook course), to be clever when online shopping (in the online shopping course), and to set up good passwords and avoid phishing in the email course. If you’re internet safety savvy it’s easy to surf the web every day with no problems.

Raising Awareness

Today Dido Harding, CEO of TalkTalk, said that it’s important not to hide away and that we should be talking openly about this important issue. I firmly agree and I was thrilled to hear that the government is building a new cybersecurity centre and that the Cyber First scheme will be recruiting 1000 graduates – a good move in the fight against cybercrime.

Raising awareness is also at the forefront of the fight. Campaigns like Safer Internet Day and European Get Online Week are two causes which we support and promote here at Tinder Foundation, the latter of which is taking place next week. ‘Trust and confidence’ is one of the key themes surrounding this year’s campaign, aiming to raise awareness around online identities and cybersecurity to help people become more confident internet users.

Of course, we can’t wipe out cybercrime and hackers completely. As much as we’d like to, that’s just impossible. But what we can do is raise awareness and educate people. I felt inspired by something that Dido said today and thought I’d use it to finish this blog (apologies to Dido if I haven’t remembered this exactly): “I’m hopeful that the virtual world can be every bit as safe as the physical world (which isn’t completely safe, as it never can be).”

We’ve helped 1.8 million vulnerable and socially excluded people make positive changes to their lives through learning how to use the internet. We help them to keep safe, but I think we can do more. So, what’s next? We’ll get out to our community partners and talk to some of our users and work out what ‘more’ might be.