Yesterday, I attended the launch of Lloyds Bank’s UK Consumer Digital Index 2018, where I sat on a panel Q&A session, as did the Chair of Good Things Foundation’s Board, Liz Williams. This Index is an eagerly anticipated piece of research which has been released annually for the past three years – the largest measure of financial and digital capability of people in the UK.
The headline stats
One of the key findings from this year’s Index is that there are now 4.3 million people (8%) in the UK with zero Basic Digital Skills – this is 470,000 fewer people than in 2017. Though the proportion of UK citizens with the full five basic digital skills has barely changed with 11.3 million people (21%) having limited abilities online.
There are three key tasks that the UK population are unable to do:
- Create something new from existing online images, music or video – 23.2 million people (43%) can’t do this;
- Verify the sources of information found online – 13 million can’t do this (24%);
- And fill out an online application form – 8.6 million people can’t do this (16%).
A stand-out stat is that there are 3.2 million people on the cusp of the full five skills. If they were to gain the missing digital skill, there would be 8.1 million people without basic digital skills.
Making it happen
The big question surrounding this final headline stat is how can we make this a reality? How can we help these 3.2 million people to gain that one missing skill?
It’s Good Things Foundation’s aim to make social change happen through digital. Our UK-wide network of Online Centres support the hardest to reach in society, not just through teaching them about computers and the internet, they are real pillars of support and trust that people can rely on.
A lot of the people who visit Online Centres face some form of social exclusion which can contribute to them being digitally excluded. This year the Index contained key stats on inclusivity as well as digital skills. 3.5 million people with a registered disability are offline – that’s 25% – and 28% of those over 60 are not online, with an amazing 84% of this group saying that nothing at all could motivate them to get online.
The benefits are clear:
- 10% of the workforce do not have basic digital skills, but if they did, they could be £13,000 a year better off.
- 4 in 10 people say that being online helps them feel less alone; 21.2m people are less lonely due to digital.
- 5 in 10 people say that the internet has helped them find a job.
As more and more people get online, the ones who are still left behind become harder and harder to reach. That’s why we need Online Centres. It’s the level of trust and honesty that they offer that these people need and in their own local communities – on their street. They won’t open up to just anyone.
As the digital and social exclusion crevice narrows, it deepens, but thankfully, more and more people are coming together across the sectors, abseiling gear in hand, to make sure we can reach and support those in need to live life to their fullest potential with digital.