Over 11 million people in the UK still lack Basic Digital Skills

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A new Index reveals that 11.5 million people in the UK do not have Basic Digital Skills.

The report also shows that just under one in ten adults don’t use the internet at all and this group is less engaged and less likely to be persuaded to get online, due to a lack of motivation, than ever before.

The Basic Digital Skills measure, designed to understand the level of digital skills amongst UK adults, shows that within 12 months, 1.1 million people gained Basic Digital Skills, which is an encouraging improvement. However, there are still 11.5 million people not making the most out of the internet, such as creating content or shopping online. Age is also a determining factor with only 49 per cent of those aged 65+ having Basic Digital Skills, compared to 97 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds.

Nick Williams, Managing Director, Consumer and Commercial Digital at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “This year’s Index shows a positive improvement in financial and digital capability with 1.1m more people gaining Basic Digital Skills and 332,000 people having improved their financial capability. It’s in the right direction but the rate of change is too slow compared to the pace of technology evolution and focused intervention is now needed.

“We know that 77 per cent of people who are offline are unaware of where to go for digital skills support. Organisations across public and private sectors must focus on one-to-one interactions. Offline customers are harder to reach but they do show up in the community and this is where trusted faces in local places can really help. That’s why we have committed, as part of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan, to provide face-to-face digital skills training (including online banking) for 2.5 million individuals, small businesses and charities by 2020.”

The Index finds that the last 9 per cent who are not yet online are far less likely to be interested or persuaded of the benefits the internet can offer.  As with those lacking Basic Digital Skills, it is the older generation who are even harder to convince.

Over half of people who are not using the internet have no interest in getting online and this rises to 60 per cent for those aged 60+.  Also, more than two-thirds of those offline say nothing will motivate them to go online – and again this is higher for those aged 60+. This is a significant increase of nearly 25 per cent since 2016. The Index highlights that nearly three-quarters of those offline do not believe they can save money using the internet, despite the report showing the savings that can be made. 76 per cent of those aged 60+ also said they did not see how they could save money online.

Worryingly, nearly half of people do not know there is free support, such as local libraries or Learn My Way courses, that can help them get online and develop their digital skills. This rises to 77 per cent amongst those who are offline. For those wanting to learn to use the internet, the more informal routes prove to be the most popular, with nearly half of people going to friends or family for help.

When considering financial resilience, the Index finds that 30 per cent people could not manage financially for more than a month without their regular income and those who are offline are more likely to struggle immediately.

Despite acknowledging the hardships they may face, many people are failing to take action to ensure they have a financial safety net in place. In fact, a separate piece of research shows that for many, taking out life or critical illness cover falls lower down the priority list than having access to an internet connection. Eight in ten Brits consider internet connection as essential and almost three quarters see a mobile phone as a necessity. In comparison, only 29 per cent think it’s essential to provide financial security for dependents if they become critically ill and only 40 per cent think it’s essential to provide security for dependents if they die.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox, Founder and Executive Chair, Doteveryone, said: “The report shows both the magnitude of what we’ve achieved so far and the significant challenges we still face in helping people get online. As before, we can see the real impact digital skills have on people’s financial wellbeing: put plainly, those who are highly digitally capable save more money, more often than those without the skills to use the internet.”

The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “We want everyone to have the skills and confidence they need to benefit from the digital revolution, with nobody left behind. That is why improving digital skills is at the heart of the Government’s new Digital Strategy – from free training in core skills for adults, through to a new Digital Skills Partnership bringing together everyone with a passion for tackling the digital skills gap.

“The Consumer Digital Index highlights many of the issues our new strategy aims to address, and Government will be working even more closely with individuals and organizations to make sure the benefits and opportunities of digital are spread across the country and throughout society.”

Karen Price, CEO, Tech Partnership, added: “The Tech Partnership, which is now assuming responsibility from Doteveryone for basic digital skills, is delighted to see Lloyds Bank’s continued commitment to this important issue, and to the challenges and opportunities of helping everyone participate in our increasingly online world.”

Source: Business Matters

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