From mobile apps to cloud computing, tech has experienced a rapid evolution in the past two decades and Britain has certainly played no small part in this. But one has to ask if the UK is in danger of lagging behind, in light of new research that shows 11 million people in the UK cannot carry out basic actions on the internet.
Commissioned by Tinder Foundation and Go ON UK, a report found that Blighty is lagging behind in fundamental areas such as sending an email, using a search engine, browsing and completing online forms, especially in comparison to Norway who are already achieving internet usage rates of 98%. It also estimated that, without increased investment into educating people on how to use the internet, 6.2 million people will remain without basic online skills in 2020.
Needless to say, support for creating a 100% digitally skilled nation has gained momentum since policy makers and business forecasters started counting the cost of digital exclusion in billions. Statistics showed that it could save government digital services an estimated £1.7bn per anum and the NHS around £108m if 1% of their face-to-face visits were converted to NHS Choices visits. The average UK household could also save approximately £560 potential with online shopping and bills payments.
The report went on to suggest that getting everyone online by 2020 would cost an annual investment of £146m over a six-year period if spread across the private, public and voluntary sectors, hence the Tinder Foundation and Go ON UK urging the government, private sector and voluntary sector organisations to work together in order to make this a reality.
“The fact is that digital exclusion costs Britain money,” say Lord Jim Knight, chair of the Tinder Foundation. “Not having the access, motivation or skills to use the internet has a real social and human impact, affecting pay, health, educational attainment and more.
He added: “A 100% digital nation could make Britain truly great – saving the government and NHS billions of pounds, boosting the economy and building human capital.”