Age UK London are campaigning for urgent action to address the profound challenges of digital exclusion impacting the daily lives of thousands of older Londoners. The gap between those with and without access to the internet is widening and the capital is at risk of witnessing a growing digitally excluded underclass.
Internet providers, the Mayor of London and Local Authorities all have crucial roles to play and action is needed more than ever. Accelerating access to digital skills training to increase confidence online would make the single biggest difference.
We are calling for:
• An age-friendly roll-out of the new digital skills entitlement.
• More social tariffs and genuinely affordable access to the internet for older Londoners on low incomes.
• Easier to understand broadband contracts.
• Boroughs to ensure equal access to information, support and services for older Londoners offline.
New report: Mind the digital gap
These calls for action are among several recommendations in Age UK London’s new report on internet use and digital exclusion in London. Published in July 2021, the report ‘Mind the digital Gap: older Londoners and internet use during the pandemic’ looks at older Londoners’ internet usage and reveals that:
• Over 200,000 older Londoners over 75 do not use the internet at all
• One in four of older Londoners over 65 would like to use the internet more
• Just 20% aged 75+ reported using the internet more during the pandemic
Data or dinner?
For London Challenge Poverty Week, Age UK London are highlighting digital poverty. We are concerned that the affordability of broadband remains a significant barrier to internet access for some of the poorest older Londoners
Not so fast: Digital inclusion accelerating?
Contrary to the belief that the pandemic has seen an acceleration in internet use amongst older people the report shows that just 20% of Londoners aged 75 and over reported using the internet more during the pandemic. 10% used it less.
The experience of Age UKs and older Londoners
“I am old and trying hard, but feel completely excluded from life by all the digitisation.” Older Londoner.
For hundreds of thousands of older Londoners, access to the internet had a powerful impact on their individual experience of the pandemic. The lockdowns galvanised some older Londoners to go online for the first time or increase the scope of their digital skills. These changes are reflected in the experience of Age UKs supporting older Londoners that are either offline or want to become more confident with their internet use.
The report also includes the stories of older Londoners speaking about their experiences and finds that learning new digital skills was crucial to increasing confidence when using the internet. A lack of trust, particularly when it came to the fear of being a victim of a scam, was also a significant barrier for many.
“We have connected many older people previously not online but then they immediately become targets for scammers”. Local Age UK.
“I don’t feel confident learning digital skills, but if someone will show me step by step, I would be willing to learn. Everything is now online so even if I have to report a repair at home, I don’t know how to, but it would make my life easier to know how to use the website. But I will never use online banking because I’m scared.” Older Londoner.
Age UK London is developing resources (and delivering in person training) to upskill older Londoners in using digital tools to get their voices heard.
To request a paper copy of the report to receive in the post please write to us at Age UK London, Crown House, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AX. The number of copies we are able to send by post is limited to 5 per request.
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