UK plc to receive almost £10 for every £1 invested in digital inclusion

Today we are calling for significant investment in digital inclusion to drive economic prosperity in the UK.

In a new report launched today, The economic impact of digital skills and inclusion in the UK, Good Things Foundation sets out that investment of £1.4 billion could reap economic benefits of £13.7 billion for UK plc. 

The report has been developed by Cebr, and supported by Capita. 

The report shows that the UK government could reap huge rewards from digital inclusion for all – with efficiency savings estimated at £1.4 billion, £483 million in increased tax revenue, and NHS savings at £899 million

And there are significant rewards for individuals too, with time savings from using online government and banking services valued at £3.9 billion, and money saved through online shopping valued at £3.5 billion

A proportion of working-age adults still need digital skills support to gain work or to find better paid work – and meeting this need is estimated to generate £2.7 billion for corporate organisations through filling vacancies, as well as £586 million in increased earnings, a further £179 million in additional earnings to individuals from finding work, and £76 million in environmental benefits.

Understanding the scale of these economic benefits is critical for those making decisions about policy and investment, at a national, regional and local level.

Although significant progress has already been made in reducing the digitally excluded population – with Cebr estimating the number of people without basic digital skills will fall from 12.4 million at the end of 2019 to an estimated 10.6 million by the end of 2022 – there is still more that needs to be done. 

The report estimates that 508,000 people each year will need support to acquire basic digital skills, while 470,000 each year will gain these skills without intervention. People who remain digitally excluded in 2022 are likely to require more active engagement and more sustained support. Using cost data on delivering basic digital skills support from Good Things Foundation and adding on costs of a basic smartphone for those likely to lack a device, the estimated total costs of intervention sum to £1.4 billion over ten years. 

Good Things Foundation is the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, and has a mission to Fix the Digital Divide – for Good. Their new strategy, launched in May 2022, sets out their three-pronged approach – working through the National Digital Inclusion Network, the National Databank and the National Device Bank. 

Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation says: “Digital skills are essential for most of us in our everyday lives – and the Covid 19 pandemic has significantly changed the way we all live and work. However, the less familiar story of the pandemic is that although digital exclusion has reduced overall, the divide itself has worsened, with the most vulnerable lagging further behind.

Digital inclusion remains an urgent issue in the UK. It is crucial for the UK’s economic success, and for the Government’s ambitions to level up. We have to act now to not only realise these significant savings, but to ensure that individuals can feel these benefits too.”

Paul Abraham, Managing Director and Client Partner for Capita’s Local Public Service division, says: “This report shows that investing in digital inclusion creates economic opportunities that benefit both citizens and communities. We are proud to be working with the Good Things Foundation to close the digital divide, build a more inclusive society and help the UK Government level up towns and cities across the country.”

Rowlando Morgan, Head Environment, Infrastructure & Local Growth said: ““The report being launched today demonstrates just how much value digital skills can provide to the UK economy. We assessed nine different streams through which interventions to build basic digital skills can benefit the UK economy. We hope this report provides a clear and compelling case for investment.”

Read the full report here.