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Digital Inclusion Charter: The Government’s latest plan to persuade UK Internet refuseniks

The Government has announced a Digital Inclusion Charter, a manifesto aimed at getting British Internet refuseniks online and accessing services. 

The Charter aims to address many of the separate issues that are preventing the millions of people getting online – namely digital literacy as well as awareness and availability of broadband connections. 

Initiatives like Go ON UK have made headlines, but the Government wants public sector groups, industry bodies and businesses work together to get everyone in the UK online by 2020. 

Digital Inclusion Charter: The Government’s latest plan to persuade UK Internet refuseniks
Computer Says No: Digital Inclusion is as much about getting people to use the internet as making sure that they can get it

The Charter will ensure that all organisations who want to promote the benefits of getting online will use the same terms and language, something which will be overseen by Go ON UK. All civil servants will be required to have basic digital skills and digital inclusion will be made a wider part of government policies. 

The Government wants to make services like Universal Credit ‘digital by default’ – in other words, make people apply for benefits online – but everyone in the UK is internet literate then it won’t be able to fully do this. 

Similarly, until reliable broadband internet access, required for services like Universal Credit to work, are ubiquitous then the Government can’t pursue nationwide policies. If the digital by default policy could be realised today, then it’s expected that UK taxpayers would be saved £1.2 billion by Spring 2015. 

The BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) project aims to get the majority of the UK connected to superfast broadband by 2017, but also promises that everyone will be able to access speeds of at least 2Mbps by the same time. 

The Government recognises that alongside improving digital literacy, around 5 per cent of the adult population lack basic literacy skills, something else that’s to be tackled alongside digital inclusion policies as well. 

While ISPs like Primus Save and Direct Save Telecom offer low-cost broadband packages and there are broadband packages available for people claiming benefits, the cost of hardware may still prove prohibitive for some. 

The Digital Inclusion Charter says little about how people priced out of the equation could be helped although with Go ON UK at the helm, it’s distinctly possible that deals similar to this one from 2012 could be launched. 

Image: Bilal Kamoon/Flickr

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