Cost of connectivity crisis: One in 10 Brits would cut back on food or heating rather than lose internet access

We're making digital for all, as new research reveals just how vital Brits consider being connected to the internet is to their everyday lives.

Our new study reveals that one in 10 Brits would cut back on food or heating rather than be disconnected to the internet. The research shows just how vital Brits consider being connected to the internet is to their everyday lives, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to heap strain on the nation.

Nearly half (45%) of Brits would find it harder to manage their household finances without the internet while four in 10 (42%) would find it tougher to pay their bills.

The study also revealed that women spend half their waking lives online, with three quarters (78%) using their phone more than any other device to get online, according to the research. The average female is online for 7.7 hours a day, just over an hour more than the average man who is connected for 6.6 hours of the day. WhatsApp, Facebook, work and emails were the biggest uses of the internet among the 2,000 Brits polled.

Two-thirds (65%) of Gen Z (aged 18 to 24) use TikTok the most, Instagram was the biggest hit with Millennials (aged 25 to 34) at 40% and WhatsApp was most used by Gen X, with nearly half (49%) using that platform more than any other. 

Four in 10 people say they would feel “cut off from the world” without digital access. However, 2.5million UK households struggle to afford internet access with one in 14 homes having no access at all, and 10 million people who lack the skills to use it.

Helen Milner OBE, Group CEO, Good Things Foundation, says: 

“Our findings show just how vital being able to use and have access to the internet is to people in Britain today. Everyone needs internet access to participate in everyday life – to connect with opportunities, services like healthcare and loved ones. We just can’t live without it – it’s very much one of our human rights. And it would take co-investment of less than £25 million a year from Government and businesses to halve the digital divide by 2030.”

Our brand new campaign: Digital For All

This month Good Things have launched Digital For All, a nationwide campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the problems of digital exclusion and pressurise the government to do more to eradicate it. The campaign shines a spotlight on the transformative power of digital inclusion, made possible through free local digital support.

As part of this campaign we are delighted to have hundreds of billboards across the UK to help raise awareness of digital exclusion and the support available for people. This has been made possible by JCDecaux UK, who have partnered with us to help amplify our message.

Chris Dooley, Head of Social Impact at JCDecaux UK, said:

“We are proud to be working in partnership with Good Things Foundation, using the power of the public screen to support the charity’s ambition to increase digital inclusion and connectivity. The JCDecaux Community Channel aims to amplify Out-of-Home’s role as a force for good in the community.”

Working with our community partners in the National Digital Inclusion Network, we continue to help people who are digitally excluded in their own neighbourhoods, providing a space and online learning platform for those struggling to get online, as well as making devices accessible. 

Alongside this, we run the National Databank, which works like a food bank, but offers free mobile SIM cards for people in need of internet connectivity. 

Julie’s story

Julie Adams, 59, volunteer worker and mum-of-two from Sheffield is one of people supported by Good Things Foundation. She’s sharing her story in this national campaign. 

Julie was embarrassed and isolated because she had no idea how to use the internet, didn’t like asking for help, and couldn’t afford to get online. After visiting her local digital inclusion hub, Learn for Life, she received a free laptop through the National Device Bank, which was paired with data. 

Julie used the laptop to do digital skills training, boosting her employment skills and giving her a new lease of life. Julie’s also now connected with her local community and is more confident than ever, living life on her own terms. She said: “The support has given me a new lease of life and freedom. I’ve gone from feeling embarrassed to more confident than ever.” 

“I was isolated and felt neglected. Now through the support I’ve received, receiving a free laptop and data – I know how to use apps, I can do Zoom meetings if I need to, and use WhatsApp to talk to friends and family.” 

*The study, conducted over the weekend of 18-19 Feb 2024, surveyed 2041 over 18s across the UK. 


Digital For All

Find out how you can help make digital a reality for all.


More good things

Help people in your community? Join the National Digital Inclusion Network and get access to free digital inclusion services.

Read transformational stories The National Digital Inclusion Network has supported people to improve their lives through digital.

Our digital inclusion services Thousands of people have been supported by the National Databank, the National Device Bank and Learn My Way.