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April 14, 2014

Government looks to boost UK ‘Digital Inclusion’

New scheme looks to get 2.7m more people online by 2016.

By Vinod

The Cabinet Office has announced a new initiative aiming to cut the number of people without Internet access in the UK by 25% over the next two years.

As part of a move to improve online literacy nationwide, the govenrment’s new Digital Inclusion Strategy will also look to cut the number of people in the UK currently not connected to the Internet by further 25% by 2020.

"As Sir Tim Berners-Lee reminded us in the London Olympics opening ceremony, the Internet is for everyone," minister for civil society Nick Hurd MP said in a statement announcing the strategy.

"We do not want people to feel excluded, our mission is to make Britain the most digitally capable country in the world. A more digitally-skilled nation will help us to boost our economy and strengthen communities."

The initiative has gained the support of 40 organisations, including the BBC, BT, EE, Google, Microsoft and Vodafone, all of whom have signed a new ‘UK Digital Inclusion Charter’ as part of the programme.

These companies will now be urged to expand their role in tackling digital exclusion and encourage more people to get online, launching and supporting a range of new initiatives across the country, including a national volunteering network of digital instructors and online skills programmes for small businesses and charities.

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Recent figures from the BBC found that 21% of Britain’s population lack the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the internet, the sort of figure the new plan is looking to improve on.

"Helping more people to go online can also help tackle wider social issues, support economic growth and close equality gaps," the government’s report announcing the plan said. However, it admits that just under 10% of the adult population may never be able to gain basic digital capabilities because of disabilities or basic literacy skills.

"This new partnership is about making it easier for people to build their digital skills and confidence, with the aim of reducing the number of people offline, so that by 2020 everyone who can be online, will be," Hurd added.

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