15.2 million people still aren’t benefiting from the internet

How much and how often you use the internet is a useful insight into who is digitally excluded. This gives us a way of assessing how the internet is impacting people’s lives – so how they are applying their basic digital skills to their lives or not.

Today, we’ve launched new research that for the first time breaks down the demographics of people who are not getting full benefit from the internet – either because they’re complete non users, or that they’re using the internet in a limited way – be it only using one site or a couple of apps, or going online less than once a week.

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The infographic accompanying our report.

The demographics of these people don’t really come as any surprise – 90% of non users are likely to be disadvantaged – which takes into account poor health and disability, social class and those who left school at 16 or under.  48% of non users and 47% of limited users have a long standing health issue or disability,  50% of non users are in social class DE, and 38% of limited users.

I’m thrilled that this new analysis is helping to build a fuller picture of what it means to be digitally excluded. We know basic digital skills is a big issue (18% of people say they aren’t online as they don’t have the skills), but it’s not the only measure of whether people are digitally excluded. Looking at usage helps us to show that digital exclusion is a much more complex issue.

For people to thrive in today’s increasingly digital world, using the internet on a regular basis and using the breadth of what’s on offer is vital. For most people, this means at least every day, if not several times a day. This might be to keep an eye on your bank balance, check on the price of your utilities, or to find work. Most people in work are using the internet on a daily basis. If people aren’t using the internet weekly, they’re likely to be excluded in a range of ways – including having less money available, fewer opportunities to find work, and less access to information that might make their lives better – such as health information, information to help their children with their homework, and more. So the way people are using the internet – how much and how often – is vital to understand whether they’re really getting the benefit they could be.

My presentation from the National Digital Conference 2017.

This analysis opens up lots of new questions and areas of work we’re keen to investigate – and understanding why people are non or limited users, and how we can better support them to thrive is going to be key.

Although we already support non and limited users through our work, and through the Online Centres Network, this new analysis will help further inform how we support these groups. It will help us to work with government and corporate partners to understand issues of digital exclusion and how together we can support it. We’re delighted BT have supported us to carry out this research, and we enjoyed working with Professor Simeon Yates to get the analysis right. We’re hoping to continue working with BT to take this further, to empower more people to have better lives and realise the opportunities the big wide web has to offer. We’re keen to hear from anyone else who wants to get involved.

The will to win

I really was delighted last month when we received three nominations in the Digital Leaders 100 Awards 2016. This annual ceremony has taken place every year since 2013 and celebrates innovative people, organisations and tech which contribute towards the digital transformation of the UK.

Helen at the awards

Me at the Digital Leaders Awards last year when we were lucky enough to win for our Widening Digital Participation programme with NHS England.


These are our nominations:

English My Way

English My Way is a project we’ve run in partnership with The British Council and BBC Learning English for the past three years, supporting English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from inside and outside of the UK online centres network to develop their English language skills, their confidence and to better integrate with their local communities.

From what I’ve seen throughout the project it has been a success and so beneficial to the project participants. Now as the project draws to a close it has been rewarded with a place on the Digital Leaders 2016 list, the ideal way to celebrate and reflect on its success.

Future Digital Inclusion

Future Digital Inclusion is our flagship digital inclusion project, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. We know that people without digital skills are at a significant disadvantage in today’s society. They are less able to access information, learning opportunities and all the other significant advantages the online world has to offer.

Future Digital Inclusion aims to close the digital skills gap by reaching out to the 12.6 million people in the UK who don’t have basic digital skills. To-date through the UK online centres network we have supported over 445,000 people to improve their basic digital skills through the programme.

Tinder Foundation

Lastly Tinder Foundation has been nominated for Charity Digital Leader of the Year. The whole organisation was delighted by the news, and it is such a nice surprise. This award isn’t just for the Tinder Foundation team though, it’s for everyone who lives under the Tinder Foundation umbrella – the UK online centres network, the learners and our Board. Congratulations to everyone – you thoroughly deserve this.

Now that we’ve made the shortlist and I’ve told you a bit about our nominations, it’s time for me to add in my plug. We’ve made the 2016 Digital Leaders 100 list, now it has to be put into a final order through the judges and public vote, and I’d love for you to give us your support.

Simply visit the Digital Leaders website and find us in the ‘Charity Digital Leader of the Year’, ‘Cross-sector Digital Collaboration of the Year’ and ‘Digital Inclusion and Skills Initiative of the Year’ categories.

Thank you.