London Digital Inclusion Service pilot is launched

Good Things Foundation, the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) and the Greater London Authority are working together to deliver London's first ever Digital Inclusion Service.

A new scheme to help tens of thousands more Londoners get online and reduce digital exclusion has been launched today by the Mayor Sadiq Khan, in partnership with Good Things Foundation and the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI). 

An estimated 270,000 Londoners have no access to the internet or digital access at all, with a further 2 million having very limited use, for example those without their own device to get online, or those who can get online but have difficulty accessing online forms or internet banking.

The service will be funded by the London Recovery Programme as part of Sadiq’s commitment to upskilling Londoners, aiding post-covid recovery and boosting the economy.

Research by the London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI) has found there are more than 100 different initiatives across the capital to address digital exclusion, but these often offer only part of the support people need, like basic skills, a device or a cheap connection. As a result, it isn’t easy for digitally excluded Londoners, or those that support them, to access what they need.   

The new Digital Inclusion Service pilot scheme will offer Londoners all they need to get online wherever they live. Lack of a device has been reported as one of the major contributing factors to digital exclusion and the service will target large organisations and businesses to donate unwanted phones and laptops to be refurbished for Londoners who need them – also helping to reduce the number of old devices sent to landfill.

The Digital Inclusion Service’s key aims are:

  • Upcycling old devices from public bodies and businesses for distribution to digitally excluded Londoners through a new Device Bank run by Good Things Foundation 
  • Providing free or low-cost mobile connectivity via a Data Bank and the promotion of ‘social tariffs’ (cheap internet connections offered by telecommunications firms)  
  • Linking to existing skills offers by Good Things Foundation and hundreds of GLA-funded free adult education courses on basic skills, as well as borough and voluntary and community sector provision across the capital.  
  • Creating a cross-London digital inclusion network of organisations building on existing work to tackle digital exclusion

The scheme will bring together organisations who support digitally excluded Londoners and will explore how more digitally excluded groups could also be offered a device, a free or cheap connection, and basic skills training, including: 

  •       Londoners in temporary accommodation
  •       Families and households still lacking a device 
  •       Older or vulnerable people through social services or their GP 
  •       Local community organisation staff and volunteers to support their work locally  

Launching the scheme at the London Digital Inclusion conference at the Museum of London today, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:  “Every Londoner should have digital access, but the sad reality is that too many Londoners lack the skills, technology and infrastructure to get online easily, preventing them from accessing the tools they need to thrive.

“The new Digital Inclusion Service will build on the amazing work already underway to tackle digital exclusion, and bring vital resources such as devices, connectivity, and learning opportunities to the fingertips of those who need them. I’m calling on large businesses and public bodies to join us in upcycling their old laptops and other tech to the new Device Bank to be reconditioned, to help bridge the digital divide, aid London’s recovery and build a better London for everyone.”

Genta Hajri, Digital Inclusion Lead at LOTI, said: “Tackling London’s digital divide is a key element in building a fairer and more prosperous city. Current rates of digital exclusion are utterly unsustainable and make other forms of inequality worse  

“By teaming up with Good Things Foundation, we’ll be in a stronger position to support the work of local authorities and the voluntary sector as they seek to ensure no Londoner is excluded from the opportunities and benefits of being online.  We’re hugely excited to have Good Things Foundation on board with this crucial work and look forward to getting the London Digital Inclusion Service underway.”   

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney and London Councils’ Digital Champion, said: “The digital divide is a very 21st century inequality and one that London local government is determined to tackle. As more and more local services are provided online, it’s essential to make sure that no Londoner gets left behind due to lack of digital skills, affordability or access to technology.” 

“The pandemic didn’t create the digital divide - but it did expose and exacerbate it. With more than a quarter of a million Londoners still completely offline, fixing the digital divide is now an urgent priority.

We’re delighted to work with the London Office of Technology & Innovation to create a uniquely sustainable service that can be rolled out to the rest of the UK, as the London Digital Inclusion Service becomes part of our digital circular economy.

By working together, we can do good things for the planet, good things for excluded people, and help fix the digital divide.”

Helen Milner OBE, Group CEO, Good Things Foundation

If you’re an organisation that wants to embed digital inclusion support, participation is free. Here are the ways you can get involved:

Join our Network 

Our Online Centres Network is free to join and open to community organisations who are already supporting – or who want to support – digital inclusion in their community. 

By joining the network you’ll get: access to devices for the people your organisation supports, access to data through the National Databank, as well as access to free training, workshops, meet-ups and resources.  Register here to join. 

How can businesses support the service?  

We’ve built a Device Bank to make it as easy as possible for organisations to donate devices and equipment, whilst wiping, securing and tracking devices to industry standards.  We’ve made this process cost neutral to organisations who donate to the Device Bank.

If you can help, please complete this form and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can. For more information please email partnerships@goodthingsfoundation.org. 

Let’s work together, and build a sustainable model of support that London can be proud of.  Let’s help Fix The Digital Divide. 

Related content