The government has announced a Digital Deal plan, aimed at getting people living in social housing connected to the internet.
While there’s concern that would-be claimants of Universal Credit will be caught in an offline benefits trap, the point of the Digital Deal is to stop this happening.
Official figures suggest that people who live in council and housing association homes make up over a quarter of people who do not use the internet – these are the people the Digital Deal will be targeting.
The Digital Deal is a £400,000 government fund that social housing landlords are encouraged to bid for, matching any funding they qualify for with their own money. This money will be used for ‘funding for innovative programmes to provide low cost internet access.’
This could include money spent on hardware including desktop PCs, laptops as well as money spent on fixed-line and mobile internet solutions.
However, not everyone will benefit as there’s only a limited amount of funding. While there’s a limit to the size of the Digital Deal fund, there’s no limit on how much a social landlord can apply for and there’s no set amount of money that has to be allocated to any specific project.
The government expects that up to ten projects will be funded under the Digital Deal programme across England, Scotland and Wales.
There’s also a set of criteria that a landlord’s plan will have to meet, to show how the money will be spent and how residents will become computer and internet-literate.
The criteria requires that the majority of residents involved will need to be involved in building their digital skills and that it represents good value for money. Should competition for the money be fierce or one application be stronger than others, then people stand to lose out.
The full criteria for applications can be found here.
Landlords will need to send in their applications by the June 3, 2013, with successful applicants announced on the June 29.