Digital Revolution and a gateway for change

Last week was Tinder Foundation’s fourth annual Digital Evolution conference and a broad range of thought leaders, policy makers and community organisations came together to discuss how we can work together and continue to build and sustain our digital nation. I can’t believe the day is over again for another year but I believe it acted as a real gateway for change – an opportunity for the digital inclusion practitioners in attendance to express their opinions, share their experiences and gain new ideas on how they can contribute to our digital future.

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Our vision

In the last five years we’ve helped more than 1.7 million people. Our vision – the vision of Tinder Foundation – is a world where everyone benefits from digital. But like I said on the day, it’s not actually about digital inclusion. Those words make people think of technology – this is a revolution about people. It’s about transforming people’s lives and building a stronger economy. What we’re all doing is working together to create digital fluency; creating people with basic digital skills and internet confidence. I feel like we really put this message across on the day and I hope those in attendance feel inspired to rally the troops and power forwards.

In my afternoon speech I made it very clear that Tinder Foundation, no matter what happens, will stick to the knitting. Our vision is digital inclusion for socially excluded people. The people who are left behind are the poorest and most vulnerable in society and we want to make sure they have the skills – employability, financial literacy, or even digital health – to improve their lives. We are not going to give up. Even it it falls out of fashion we’re still going to do it. Our network of community partners are a big club with a shared vision and we’re all doing this because we want to – because we believe in it.

Revolution, not Evolution

Four years ago, when we were planning our very first conference, I wanted to call it Digital Revolution, but the team wanted to make it a bit more ‘user-friendly’. To this day I still find it appropriate. The whole point of a revolution is about working together. Many voices united is stronger and more powerful than one voice alone. If we continue to work together to create our digital nation, we can make a real and visible difference. We can’t be complacent here – we need change.

It was Tinder Foundation’s birthday on Tuesday 1 December and we’ve come so far in the last four years – but there’s still much work to be done. The Autumn Statement and Spending Review took place on the same day as our conference and it brought some welcome news; news that will help us continue our revolution – an additional £450 million has been allocated for the Government Digital Service. I can’t wait to see what will be achieved with this cash injection. I’m sure it will be a lot.

Thank you

I’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who attended Digital Evolution: Building a digital nation, thank you to all our partners, and thank you to our network of community partners. It’s the work they do that happens on the ground that really makes a difference. Thank you to all of our speakers and panellists on the day and especially thank you to Maggie Philbin for chairing. You were wonderful.

I can’t wait to see where we are and how many people our collective efforts have helped by 2016’s conference. Please keep doing what you’re doing, because together we can make a real difference. Until next year …

Transforming people’s lives, building a stronger economy

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.

Digital Nation infographic

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.