The Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) has taken a significant step forward in the fight against digital poverty in the UK by launching a comprehensive National Delivery Plan.
This pioneering strategy aims to eradicate digital poverty by 2030, outlining six core missions that require the cooperation of the Government, industry, and local communities.
Digital poverty continues to impact millions of individuals across the UK, with approximately 1.7 million households (6%) lacking home internet access and 10 million adults (20%) lacking fundamental digital skills.
Digital poverty roadmap
The inability to access digital resources and services denies people their basic rights. It hinders their ability to manage healthcare, access essential services, acquire new skills, and apply for employment.
The National Delivery Plan presents a roadmap to ensure that everyone can benefit from the transformative potential of the digital world, empowering local organisations to provide support for digital inclusion.
The six core missions of the National Delivery Plan are as follows:
- Increase awareness: The plan seeks to raise awareness of the urgent need for sustainable and strategic actions to combat digital poverty.
- Ensure connectivity: The goal is to guarantee affordable connectivity for those in need, ensuring full digital access on a sustainable basis.
- Improve standards: The plan aims to enhance accessibility, safety, and inclusiveness across all digital products and services.
- Enhance digital skills: By 2030, the plan aims to significantly reduce the proportion of individuals lacking essential digital skills while ensuring the ongoing development and expansion of these skills to adapt to changing technologies and needs.
- Foster understanding: The plan emphasises the importance of fostering knowledge and understanding of digital poverty among all stakeholders through research and collaboration between citizens, governments, and the public and private sectors.
- Increase local capacity: The plan seeks to strengthen local capacity to provide comprehensive and coordinated support for digital inclusion, benefiting individuals and communities.
National Delivery Plan
The National Delivery Plan urges the UK Government to create a new digital inclusion strategy and calls on the public, private, and third sectors to contribute to raising awareness about digital poverty. It emphasises the need for immediate action to improve essential digital skills across society.
At the heart of the plan, the DPA and its alliance of organisations and individuals represented through its Community Board call for a new entitlement that ensures everyone at risk of digital exclusion can access free devices, connectivity, and support. This entitlement aims to enable individuals to realise tangible economic, social, and personal benefits through their engagement with the online world.
Recognising the cost-of-living crisis many households face, the plan highlights the necessity of assisting millions of households struggling to afford broadband and mobile bills. It advocates for implementing social tariffs to facilitate access to these cost-saving deals, including a co-funded, industry-wide social tariff settlement.
Leveraging industry support
To support the proposed initiatives, the plan suggests cutting the VAT rate charged on broadband and mobile bills to 5%, acknowledging the Internet’s status as an essential utility. The plan further recommends the introduction of a digital inclusion levy to fund support for individuals most in need.
Paul Finnis, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance and the Learning Foundation, is optimistic about the National Delivery Plan, stating: “This flagship strategy set out by the DPA is designed to have a tangible impact on those most affected by a lack of essential access to the digital world.”
Finnis highlighted the importance of collaboration between the DPA, government, industry leaders, and community organisations to eradicate digital poverty and ensure everyone has the necessary skills, resources, and access to thrive in the digital age.
Echoing these sentiments, Paula Coughlan, Chief People, Communications and Sustainability Officer at Currys plc, stressed the essential nature of digital inclusion for all individuals, emphasising that it is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Coughlan commended the work done by the DPA and called for a continued focus on addressing digital poverty through the six missions outlined in the National Delivery Plan.
Niel Mclean, Chair of Trustees for The Learning Foundation, emphasised the significance of the National Delivery Plan as a groundbreaking policy roadmap to address the lack of access to digital skills, devices, and broadband connectivity in the UK.
Mclean also underscored digital technology’s critical role during the pandemic and the severe implications faced by millions who lack digital access daily.
The unveiling of the National Delivery Plan marks a pivotal moment in the fight against digital poverty in the UK. By rallying government, industry, and local communities behind a shared vision, the DPA aims to create a society where digital inclusion is a fundamental right for all, enabling individuals to thrive in the digital era.