Growing problem of ‘digital exclusion’

A new report has highlighted the growing problem of ‘digital exclusion’. It provides new evidence that government efforts to move services online are particularly disadvantaging low-income groups, including older people and those with disabilities.

The report is based on a survey of low-income taxpayers across age profiles.

Key points

  • A significant proportion of the population is digitally excluded because they lack internet access and/or have low levels of digital literacy.
  • The main determinant of digital exclusion is age but other significant factors – often combined with low income – include disability, learning difficulties, ethnic origin, location, culture and language.
  • As the government moves services to self-serve channels, significant numbers of people who are unable to move online, or who are not computer-literate, might miss out on government services.
  • People who are digitally excluded are likely to be disproportionately heavy users of government services. Nearly half of those seeking help on tax and tax credit issues do not have access to a computer.
  • The depth of digital exclusion for people with disabilities is generally much greater than for the wider population.
  • Motivation seems to be the biggest barrier to digital inclusion to overcome, especially for low-income groups.

Source: Digital Exclusion, Low Incomes Tax Reform Group/Chartered Institute of Taxation

Links: Report | Press release

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