15.2 million people in UK not fully using internet, says new report

22 Jun 2017

Good Things Foundation and BT have today launched new analysis which shows that there are 15.2 million people in the UK that aren’t making full use of the internet.

  • 7.8 million are non-users and aren’t using the internet at all
  • 7.4 million are limited users, and so are only making use of the internet in a limited way. Infrequent is likely to be less than weekly usage.

Both non and limited users are more likely to be socially excluded, with 90% of non-users being classed as disadvantaged, which includes people with poor health or a disability, people in social class DE, and people who left school before the age of 16.

  • 48% of non-users have a long standing health issue or disability, and 47% of limited users
  • 50% of non users are in social class DE, and 38% of limited users.

This shows that groups most excluded from society are also those most likely to be missing out on the significant benefits the internet can provide.

Non-users are likely to be older (39% are over 75), but characteristics of limited use are displayed across all ages, with 63% of limited users aged under 65.

This research is based on new analysis of the 2015 Ofcom Media Literacy Survey, and has been conducted by Professor Simeon Yates at the University of Liverpool.

It highlights the groups who are demographically more likely to not be making full use of the internet. It also helps to provide a fuller picture of who is digitally excluded in the UK, supporting research launched by Lloyds Banking Group earlier this year which shows there are 11.5 million people in the UK lacking in basic digital skills.

People who are offline as missing out on a wide range of benefits, including access to financial savings, work opportunities, and the chance to stay in touch with friends and family and do more of the things they enjoy.

Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation said: “This research is important as for the first time it not only quantifies the number of people who are offline, but also details the barriers these people face - which shows that the issues of digital exclusion are much more complicated than just skills, taking into account access, motivation and confidence as well. We’re committed to helping people to thrive in a digital world, and so it’s crucial that we tackle these entrenched barriers, and develop programmes and interventions that will really support these people.”

Ian Caveney, Senior Consultant in the BT Purposeful Business Team said: “At BT, we already have a number of products and services like our Basic Broadband and online content that supports the disadvantaged, and with the insight in this report we can ensure not only our current offerings support all segments, but it will enable us to develop future product and services too.”

Good Things Foundation and BT, together with other partners, will use this new research to inform new approaches for anyone who does not yet benefit from being online. They will also explore further research that will help provide a fuller picture of non and limited users, and the barriers and challenges they face.

You can see the full report here.