Doing Digital Inclusion: Rural Handbook

People living in rural areas face very specific barriers to getting online and gaining basic digital skills. This handbook outlines some common challenges and offers tips and resources for tackling rural digital exclusion.

9.5 million UK adults lack basic digital skills and 5.9m of those have never been online. The areas with the highest rates of internet non-users are rural ones – with Northern Ireland heading up the pack, followed by Highlands and Islands, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, West Wales and the Valleys and Lincolnshire.

  • Only 80% of rural households in the UK have standard broadband availability compared to 98% of urban households.
  • Only 21% of rural households in the UK have superfast broadband availability compared to 86% of urban households.
  • On average people living in the most rural areas travelled 45% further per year than those in England as a whole and 53% further than those living in urban areas.
  • Across the north east and south west of England, 56% of small rural towns have become transport deserts or are at risk of becoming one.

These statistics, which highlight the lower levels of internet usage, access and broadband availability in rural areas, confirm rurality as a major contributing factor to digital exclusion.