Digital Nation 2020: Fixing the Digital Divide

24 Sep 2020

The scale of the Digital Divide in the UK - and the extent to which COVID-19 has changed the dial on digital exclusion - is revealed in a new infographic from Good Things Foundation.

Among the information presented is new analysis (based on pre-COVID-19 data) revealing a North-South digital divide, with 49% of people in the South East using the internet fully compared to just 18% in the North East, and 31% in the North West.1 The infographic also gives insight into how people’s digital lives have shifted during the pandemic.

The Prime Minister has pledged a world class gigabit-capable broadband for every home and business across the UK by 2025. Yet 9 million people have been locked out of the digital economy and can’t use the internet independently.2 COVID-19 has made digital inclusion more important than ever before, and has changed how we live, work, trade, and consume.

The infographic paints a clear picture of why a Great Digital Catch Up scheme - a simple solution to closing the digital divide - is needed. The policy proposal was published recently in ‘Blueprint for a 100% Digitally Included UK’, a report by digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation. The report calls on Parliament to fire up the economy and fix the digital divide by investing £130m over 3 years in the scheme. Investing just 2% of the superfast broadband infrastructure budget will allow 4.5 million more people to cross the Digital Divide and help level up the UK in the fight to help revive the economy.

A poll commissioned for the report, conducted by market research leaders Ipsos Mori, shows significant public backing for the proposal - three quarters of adults polled across all ages and regions think every village, town and city in the UK needs more support and investment in digital.3

Good Things Foundation, led by Chief Executive Helen Milner OBE, is a social change charity set up to help people to improve their lives through digital so they can be happier, healthier and better off. Good Things works with community partners across the UK. Since the start of the pandemic these partners have seen a huge surge in demand for support with digital access, affordability and skills.

Helen Milner OBE, Good Things Foundation Chief Executive, says:

“People’s lives have changed forever this year. Inequalities, isolation and loneliness have worsened. Digital inclusion is important now more than ever. Our new infographic - featuring research from our recent public polling - reveals a shocking North-South digital divide - even before COVID-19 hit the UK. Over the next 6 months, these - and other inequalities will worsen, unless we act now. Our Great Digital Catch Up will tackle digital exclusion and leave more people happier, healthier, and better off.”

1 In England, the digital divide is also a north/south divide, with 49% of people in the South East using the internet fully compared to just 18% in the North East, and 31% in the North West. (Ofcom Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2020 / Analysis by Prof. S. Yates for Good Things Foundation.)

2 9 million people struggle to use the internet independently (Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020)

3 Notes about the new public polling data: Online survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Good Things Foundation amongst a nationally representative quota sample of 2,219 adults in the United Kingdom aged 16-75 using its online I:Omnibus between 28th and 31st August 2020. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age within gender, government office region, working status and social grade.