The government has launched a ‘Digital Inclusion Strategy’ which aims to reduce the number of people who are offline by 25 percent by 2016.
The strategy, announced by the Cabinet Office, has a goal of bringing 2.7 million more people online in the next two years and then reducing the proportion of people who are offline by a further 25 percent every two years after that.
As part of the strategy, the government says it will make draw digital inclusion into wider policy, programmes and digital services, set up a cross-government digital capability programme and ensure all civil servants have ‘the digital capabilities to use and improve government services’.
The strategy also commits the government to agree a common definition of digital skills and capabilities, create a common language for digital inclusion and bring digital capability support into one place, according to the Cabinet Office.
40 organisations from across the public, private and voluntary sectors have signed a new ‘UK Digital Inclusion Charter’, committing them to help tackle digital exclusion.
For example, Asda will launch a national programme of free face-to-face advice sessions on going online in 60 of their supermarkets, with the Tinder Foundation and EE has said it will hold a ‘National Techy Tea Party Day’ in all its shops on 9 September to provide support for those seeking help with their digital skills.
The government also hopes that the strategy will help to improve the digital skills of small and medium enterprises and third sector organisations. For example, Lloyds Bank has launched the UK Business Digital Index, which will be used to measure the digital skills of SMEs and third sector organisations, helping them to assess what support they need and improve their capabilities.
Civil society minister Nick Hurd said: “As Sir Tim Berners Lee reminded us in the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, the Internet is for everyone. We do not want people to feel excluded, our mission is to make Britain the most digitally capable country in the world.
“A more digitally-skilled nation will help us to boost our economy and strengthen communities. This new partnership is about making it easier for people to build their digital skills and confidence, with the aim of reducing the number of people offline, so that by 2020 everyone who can be online, will be.”