A Call for Inclusivity in the Digital Age

When navigating the landscape of digital inclusion daily, we witness both its challenges and its power to bring about transformation. Insights from the recent Deloitte report for the Digital Poverty Alliance highlights that Approximately one in seven adults and one in five children are still in digital poverty.

Society finds itself at a critical juncture where the digital divide not only determines access but also profoundly affects economic and social prosperity.

While the UK's spring 2024 budget is comprehensive in numerous aspects, it has missed a crucial chance to tackle this division. However, the argument for digital inclusion goes beyond a mere oversight, supported by compelling statistics and human narratives alike.

Economic Imperatives of Digital Inclusion

There are significant economic advantages of working towards digital inclusion. An investment in digital skills training can lead to an annual increase of approximately £17 billion in earnings for six million people.

Similarly, improving digital access has the potential to enhance annual financial management by £4-6 billion for seven-nine million individuals. This improvement means more people can save for their future, steer clear of debt, and make wise financial choices.

Additionally, the opportunity for savings in government efficiency is close to £1 billion. These savings could be reallocated to further enhance public services, maximising the effectiveness of each pound spent.

Beyond Numbers: Human Impact of Digital Inclusion

Improved digital access goes far beyond numbers in financial reports and economic figures. It signifies families escaping poverty, young people landing their first jobs, and senior employees adapting to new technologies for the digital era.

Better digital access, along with increased health literacy, could prevent 18-24,000 deaths each year among those aged 65 and older. This fact alone demands urgent attention. It represents grandparents who are able to take control of their health care online, accessing services and information that can not only prolong their lives but also enhance their well-being.

The Call for Inclusivity in Digital Advancements

While the recent spring budget's commitment to advancing digital skills and AI is notable, it also highlights the need for a wider perspective. The initiatives, whilst steps in the right direction, emphasise the urgent need for inclusivity.

It's crucial that these technological advances benefit not just those with high-level skills but also those currently outside of the digital world. As we embrace innovative approaches, such as using video calls to report crimes, it's vital to identify and lessen any inequalities that may arise from these changes, especially for those who are digitally disconnected.

Adopting this inclusive approach will not only boost our national competitiveness but also ensure that the benefits of technological advancements are distributed fairly, promoting a more socially inclusive environment.

Investing in digital inclusion goes beyond economic considerations, it signifies a commitment to construct a fairer, knowledgeable, and interconnected society. The potential advantages are evident, ranging from substantial economic growth to the invaluable impact on lives saved and improved.

While we contemplate the missed opportunity in the 2024 budget, let's also view it as a rallying point. Together, we can and must advocate for a future where digital inclusion isn't an afterthought but a fundamental pillar of our societal progress.

Organisations, such as The Digital Poverty Alliance, are ready to lead this change, inviting partners across all sectors to prioritise digital inclusion. We're not just changing numbers, we're changing lives.

It is important to seize this moment to ensure that every individual, regardless of their background or circumstances, has the opportunity to thrive in the digital age. The imperative is clear, and the time to act is now. It is vital that communities unite to ensure that digital inclusion becomes a cornerstone of our collective agenda.