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Budget 2020: Comment from Civica on Broadband Boost

Wednesday March 11th, 2020

Today (Wed March 11th 2020), Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £5 billion in funding for gigabit broadband throughout the UK. Civica’s Executive Director of Digital, Steve Thorn has given a comment on this. civica-group-logo

Mr Thorn says:

“It’s clear that digital exclusion is one of the great social challenges of our age. According to data from Ofcom and Office of National Statistics data, 11.3 million people (17% of the UK population) lack the basic digital skills needed to access the internet. The most vulnerable groups are those who are on lower incomes, those who are living in rural areas or dealing with health issues, and older people.

Today’s budget announcement, which included government plans to invest £5bn to accelerate the delivery gigabit capable broadband is positive to hear. Nevertheless, when considering the best solutions for getting the nation online, it’s not as simple as introducing better broadband infrastructure or 4G/5G; rather, it has become a social challenge.

The mission to eradicate digital exclusion will be complex, but it’s not unachievable. Much needs to be done to address the root causes of this ‘digital divide.’ Here are five steps that the public sector can take to increase the number of people accessing services digitally.

1. Scale up digital inclusion programmes in rural areas
2. Invest in digital infrastructure
3. Identify who is not using the internet and understand why
4. Build engaging digital services across different channels
5. Educate and train citizens in the use of digital services

“It’s vital that the UK embraces the changes needed to develop and drive digital transformation right across the country; ensuring all citizens are included and able to dial into digital success.”

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