There are an estimated 9.2 million adults in the UK who have never used the internet; many of these are among the more vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society including:
- 31% of those earning less than £10,400 per annum
- 55% of those who have no qualifications
- 60% of those aged over 65
Assisted Digital is the term now being used to describe a range of developments, strategies, and actions aimed at ensuring that no one is left behind. The concept of Assisted Digital therefore has a wide remit, with different services and customer groups requiring different forms of support in order to allow a fully digital service to operate. We are working with Departments and service providers to think through the definition and structure the work programme to deliver Assisted Digital alongside the Digital by Default agenda. However in general a tiered programme of support is likely to include:
- In the short term, providing access to non-digital channels by exception for those who need them, such as through click and print services for paper forms
- Providing an interface to digital services where non-digital elements are required e.g. ID verification
- Providing physical access and/or support to use digital channels e.g. through internet terminals for those without internet connections and face to face support to input data for those without internet skills.
- Signposting to internet training for those requiring digital skills e.g. via UK Online centers, libraries etc.
- Help ensure that the development of new services – designed to be Digital by Default – are also accessible and usable for service users.
It will build on existing initiatives aimed at getting people to use Digital Channels (e.g. Race Online 2012) and current infrastructure that facilitates access to Digital Services (e.g. UK Online Centres). Assisted Digital will also identify and develop:
- Alternative and shared non-digital delivery channels (e.g. Post Offices)
- Specialist solutions to specific issues (e.g. Blind, Disabled, Elderly, etc.) by working with special interest groups
- An improved understanding of how wider Government policies impact on the Digital Agenda (e.g. Local Government & policies on localism)
Assisted Digital is a step change from previous approaches taken by Government in tackling digital inclusion. This is because Assisted Digital is predicated on services being Digital by Default rather than by offering a multi-channel approach to service delivery.
It is about taking a more proactive approach to getting people online and thereby sharing the benefits available from being online. If successful, Assisted Digital will see more people get online to access public services; which are more conveniently accessible, easier to use, and therefore the preferred choice of service users.
We will blog here as often as possible to keep you updated about how this agenda is progressing.