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The UKs great digital divide narrowed by pandemic – Workplace Insight

digital divideNew analysis by Rouge Media, highlights the place within the UK has probably the most lapsed or web non-users, following Ofcom’s announcement that the digital divide has been narrowed by pandemic, however round 1.5m properties stay with out web entry.

Over current years, there’s been a rising give attention to so-called “web non-users” as a part of the talk in regards to the UK’s digital divide and its impression on inclusion. And the COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered the digital divide like by no means earlier than, as communication and lots of important providers moved on-line.

By analysing native and regional variations in web non-use utilizing the newest ONS knowledge, Rouge Media additionally highlights the place within the UK has the best share of lapsed and web non-users.


Key findings

At an area degree, Luton, Bedfordshire has the most important variety of web non-users proportionate to its inhabitants. The variety of residents who’ve by no means used the web or haven’t used it prior to now three months rose from 6.6 p.c in 2019 to a staggering 22.2 p.c in 2020. This implies many native residents had been left unable to entry necessary on-line providers or profit from communication apps in the course of the first nationwide lockdown final yr.

On condition that the share of residents over the age of 60 in Luton is decrease than the nationwide common, the information factors to different social or financial elements at play, with widening inequalities brought on by the pandemic maybe taking part in a job. The city’s financial system has been hardest hit by the lack of income from Luton Airport in the course of the pandemic, with the council’s finance chief estimating a £70m shortfall in actual phrases.

Ranked in second place is Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland with 20.9 p.c of its inhabitants residing offline in 2020 (up from 10.3 p.c in 2019). Powys in Wales follows carefully behind in third place – 20.3 p.c of its inhabitants lived with out the web in 2020 in comparison with 14.4 p.c the yr earlier than.

Trying on the knowledge at a regional degree, the digital divide is largest in Northern Eire – with 11.8 p.c of residents reporting they haven’t used the web prior to now three months or have by no means used it.

Though 174,000 individuals report residing offline in Northern Eire, its digital divide is closing at an encouraging charge, falling over 25 p.c between 2017 and 2020. Openreach have introduced plans to take a position £100m into NI broadband, hopefully encouraging much more of the inhabitants to get on-line.

Ranked in second place is the North East, with 11 p.c of residents residing offline initially of the pandemic – solely 0.7 p.c behind Northern Eire. Nevertheless, its hoped that this can drop additional after the area’s superfast broadband improve in November 2020.

Since 2017, the North East’s digital divide has closed by 19 p.c and simply 0.1 p.c in comparison with 2019.

Wales is available in third place for its digital divide, with 9.8 p.c of its residents both lapsed or web non-users in 2020 – down from 10.4 p.c in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, Better London has the smallest p.c of the inhabitants residing offline. One of many elements influencing London’s smaller digital divide is its inhabitants is relatively younger; the typical age in London is 35.6, in comparison with 40.3 within the UK general.

“It’s clear that whereas constructive progress has been made, an everlasting digital divide stays”

In Internal London, nearly half the inhabitants is of their early twenties to early forties (46.7 p.c), in comparison with 30.9 p.c in the remainder of England. A lot of the town is made up of the ‘younger skilled’ demographic, nevertheless there are nonetheless 347,000 individuals residing offline out of the 9 million residents. Since 2017, London’s digital divide has closed by a formidable 31 p.c.

Because the portion of the inhabitants who had been born earlier than the web turns into smaller and the primary technology of “digital natives” attain maturity, the digital divide is anticipated to shut additional and at an accelerated charge throughout the entire of the UK

Nevertheless, enduring social and financial points will stay, stopping individuals from utilizing or benefiting from the web absolutely. The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated inequalities between wealthy and poor households, squeezing budgets additional.

In line with the Decision Basis thinktank, British households took an even bigger hit to their earnings in the course of the pandemic than their European counterparts because of the construction of the UK financial system and rising earnings inequality. This might impression the variety of households who’re in a position to afford web entry and IT gear, with different important items and providers being prioritised.

Andy Woods, Director of Rouge Media commented on the findings: “It’s been actually fascinating to review the UK’s digital divide and the progress being made in lowering the variety of residents residing offline, particularly at a time when web entry has by no means been so necessary.

“It’s clear that whereas constructive progress has been made, an everlasting digital divide stays nationwide which seems to be impacting older residents and poorer households unequally.”

Learn extra in regards to the examine here.

Picture by Antonios Ntoumas

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