New group created to address digital poverty in UK

A group of industry, government and civil society leaders are coming together to tackle digital exclusion in the UK

Posted 24 September 2021 by Christine Horton

A new group has been launched that brings together industry, government and civil society leaders to try to improve digital skills and facilitate better access to digital technologies across the UK.

The Inclusive Economy Partnership’s (IEP) Digital Inclusion Impact Group’s members include DCMS, Good Things Foundation, Code First Girls, Vodafone, Laptops for Kids, Digital Boost, techUK, FutureDotNow, Mastercard, Young Foundation, and PwC.

The group will be co-chaired by a Minister of State, Sherry Coutu, author of the Scaleup Report and NED at DCMS and Digital Boost, and Dayne Turbitt, SVP and GM for Dell Technologies in the UK.

In the UK, just under 12 million people lack what the UK government defines as essential digital skills. This includes communicating online, handling information and content, making transactions, problem-solving, and being safe and legal on the internet. Six percent of UK households lack regular and reliable access to the internet at home, either fixed or mobile.

In a statement the group says it will coordinate a programme of community-led activity centred around access, connectivity, and digital skills, “either by amplifying existing initiatives, scaling proven solutions, or pioneering innovative new responses to address systemic challenges.”

It adds that the members will identify these projects through on-the-ground insight from government and civil society partners based on the most acute challenges and where the group can make the most significant impact.

“The leaders from business, government and civil society who have come together here have pledged their resources, expertise and connections to tackle the digital skills crisis throughout the country,” said Coutu.

“We are determined that our joint efforts should drive up productivity, economic growth and co-create the society we all dream of.”

Pilot projects

Dayne Turbitt, UK senior vice president & general manager for Dell Technologies said technology is “a powerful force for creating new opportunities and breaking down barriers.

“As such, it is our responsibility to help create an ecosystem committed to delivering equitable access to the tools, skills and support needed to drive change and create opportunities. The launch of the Digital Inclusion Impact Group is just the beginning of what will be a long-standing collaboration between some of the UK’s most important players, driving action and improving digital inclusion across the nation.”

One of the pilot projects supported by the Digital Inclusion Impact Group is Dell Donate to Educate. The joint initiative between Dell Technologies and Microsoft will help businesses support children and their families in the UK with access to the right technology at school and home. Organisations that donate through the programme will provide fully supported tech bundles to either a school of their choosing or one of 100 UK schools identified by The Learning Foundation as being most in need of new IT equipment.

The Digital Inclusion Impact Group will also use Mastercard’s Inclusive Growth Score tool to help identify communities most at risk of digital exclusion. The data-driven tool adds insights into the challenges faced by local communities across the UK and will help the group to take positive targeted action to drive social and economic improvements.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash