Insights from Lloyds Consumer Digital Index and Nominet’s Digital Youth Index

Two key reports launched last week and both highlight a growing digital exclusion gap. Head of Research and Data Insights, Katie Heard, discusses the key findings.

This week marked the release of two significant reports: the Lloyds Consumer Digital Index 2023 and the Nominet Digital Youth Index 2023. These reports shed light on the growing gap for those facing digital exclusion. While progress has been made, especially for those gaining new digital skills, a worrying trend emerges for those without connectivity and essential digital skills.

Good Things Foundation’s Group CEO, Helen Milner, says: 

“The cost of living crisis is delivering poverty, digital poverty, and disconnection for millions. Despite some progress, this year’s Consumer Digital Index points to a hard truth. The dial for those most disadvantaged is not shifting; it is even going backwards. There’s so much more we could do together to fix the digital divide, using the resources we offer through the National Digital Inclusion Network, National Databank and National Device Bank. But we – and others – need the Government to step up with co-investment and a clear vision for a digitally included nation. The data sends a clear message: this can’t wait.”

Read about the key takeaways from the reports.

Online access as an ‘unaffordable luxury’

As the cost of living crisis persists, digital connectivity becomes a casualty for some, pushing individuals and households into digital exclusion. The choice between essential needs and online access becomes increasingly difficult. Individuals may have to sacrifice their digital connection due to financial constraints, closing off avenues to services, savings, and connections with family and friends.

“People have to make a conscious choice whether to heat their home or pay the bills, have some food or have data… access to data and the internet doesn’t come at the top of your priorities if you’re in those circumstances.”

-National Digital Inclusion Network Hub staff member, West Yorkshire. 

Declining internet usage

The Lloyds report highlights a decline in internet usage over the last year, with 1.6 million fewer people online in the past three months. Reasons include a lack of skills, confidence, and motivation, but 10% attribute their absence to a lack of devices or connectivity. The Nominet Digital Youth Index emphasises that over half a million young people lack a device or home internet connection, disadvantaging those already facing many other barriers.

Progress has a downside – those left behind

While some make remarkable progress in digital skills, not everyone experiences steady improvement. The Lloyds report indicates that 6% (3.1 million people) have downgraded their skills, with 1 in 4 remaining in the very low segment of digital capability. At the bottom of this group, 13% have ultra-low digital skills, made up of mostly females, older individuals, and those on lower incomes.  This group have minimal to no online behaviours and have remained here for the last 3-4 years. The Nominet Digital Youth Index exposes shortcomings in the school system’s ability to equip young people with the necessary digital skills for their future careers.

Fixing the digital divide

Despite efforts to assist people in gaining basic digital skills, the data suggests that current progress may not be enough. Prioritising digital inclusion across all levels and sectors is crucial to bridge the growing digital divide. The National Digital Inclusion Network and others are working to address these challenges, emphasising the need for collective action to fix the digital divide. If you share our commitment to closing this gap, come and join the conversation. 

Together we can fix the digital divide – for good. 


Katie Heard

Head of Research and Data Insights

Katie leads our team of researchers and data specialists. The research team helps us understand the difference we are making, how many people we are helping and understand what works and how we can improve the lives of those who are digitally excluded. Katie sees equality of access to digital services and devices as a basic need and is passionate about making this possible for as many people as we can.