Our Director of Evidence and Engagement, Dr Emma Stone, writes about how the internet can help people save money and cut costs amid the cost-of-living emergency.
With inflation reaching a 40 year high, and more than half of adults (52%) saying they’ve already found it hard to meet essential costs in the last six months (according to new research for the BBC), the risk is growing that some households will feel forced offline. Not only does this risk making life harder and lonelier, it also means missing out on the ‘digital dividend’ – the benefits which accrue to those of us who can afford to stay connected, and have the digital skills and support we need to engage safely and confidently online.
Internet access is critical to everyday life and work, health and education. And it can be a valuable source of information and advice about money, enabling people to find trusted help they’re entitled to and useful tools. From benefits checkers like entitledto, to advice providers like Citizens Advice and StepChange the debt charity, and Money Saving Expert, to sharing tips and stories by and for low income consumers from Quids In! Magazine. But not everyone can access this.
‘Nobody in the Dark’ was a campaign we co-led on digital and financial inclusion – an emergency pandemic response. Financial inclusion experts Clean Slate CIC (who deliver QuidsIn!) worked with us to enable others in our ‘online centres’ network to provide digital and financial inclusion support to people, using a money health check quiz as a starting point. With support from Mastercard’s Impact Fund and Lloyds Banking Group, we called for more action and clearer policies to ensure nobody was left in the dark and unable to access online financial support.
Building on lessons learned from Nobody in the Dark, and marking Day 3 of Get Online Week, we’re joining with Clean Slate and QuidsIn! as they launch a new campaign today – #ThinkBiggerThanBills – which wants to:
- Encourage people, including those in low-paid work, to check if they are eligible for benefits
- Encourage people to take a ‘financial 360’ using the Future-Proof Finance Quiz
- Support people to become savvy and save by being online … and Good Things Foundation’s Learn My Way courses are a great starting point if you are supporting someone with no or low digital skills – with topics like ‘managing money online’.
Staying connected – and having the skills and support you need – is critical. But the bottom line is that too many people and families simply don’t have enough to live on. The choices between essentials that they face are impossible. They are choices which no-one should have to make. And this won’t be addressed without targeted and supportive measures from the Government. We’d like to see the Government step up and help us and our partners #FixTheDigitalDivide – for good.
Dr Emma Stone
Director of Evidence and Engagement
Emma leads a team of specialist experts - skilled in service design, user research, evaluation, data insights, marketing, communications, external affairs and advocacy.