Study: Government Digital Inclusion Strategy failed to meet targets

According to a study from Rouge Media, the UK government’s 2014 Digital Inclusion Strategy has failed to meet some of its core targets.

The study claims that the strategy’s aim of reducing the number of people who are “offline” by 25 per cent every two years until all capable people were online by the end of 2020 was missed, with just a 16 per cent drop in offline people achieved so far.

The strategy defined “offline” people as anyone over the age of 16 who has either not used the internet in the past three months or who has never used the internet. The 16 per cent drop means there are currently still close to 5 million people in the UK classed as internet non-users.

The study says the latest data shows that the targeted 25 per cent drop was missed in every UK region bar the South West (which registered a 28 per cent reduction) between 2017 and 2019.

While the number of non-internet users will continue to decrease over time, some social and economic factors remain barriers to getting all capable people online. Affordability, old age, a lack of skills and disability are seen as key issues in keeping people offline.

Rouge Media Director Andy Woods said: “It’s been really interesting to study the progress being made to meet the Government’s ambitious target of getting everyone who’s digital capable online by the end of 2020. It’s clear that while positive work has been done, an enduring digital divide remains.”

“Internet costs have been rising steadily over recent years, while speed and reliability are still major issues affecting many regions. Until the UK’s digital infrastructure is fit for purpose nationwide, we won’t be able to unlock the full social and economic potential and make greater strides in addressing the inequalities that remain.”