Last December, we published action 15 of the Government Digital Strategy to show the government’s commitment to digital inclusion. Today, as the Director responsible for this area of work, I wanted to mark the launch of the Digital Inclusion Strategy as part of that commitment to reduce the number of people and organisations offline.
We’ve also brought together 40 organisations from public, private and voluntary sectors to sign up to a new UK Digital Inclusion Charter. Partners like AgeUK, Asda, EE and the Society of Chief Librarians will work together in new ways to tackle digital exclusion by creating actions that can be scaled up nationally.
This is a really exciting time for us because it’s the first time the government will be bringing together such a wide number of partners to tackle digital exclusion. We want to scale up good ideas, stop duplication and make it easier for people to work together. We will work over the next two years to reduce the number of people without basic digital skills and capabilities by a quarter.
Actions to tackle digital exclusion
The government will work with the digital skills charity Go ON UK and UK Digital Inclusion Charter signatories to address the barriers that have stopped people going online by delivering a set of ten actions:
1. Make digital inclusion part of wider government policy, programmes and digital services
2. Establish a quality cross-government digital capability programme
3. Give all civil servants the digital capabilities to use and improve government services
4. Agree a common definition of digital skills and capabilities
5. Boost Go ON UK's Partnership Programme across the country
6. Improve and extend partnership working
7. Create a shared language for digital inclusion
8. Bring digital capability support into one place
9. Deliver a digital inclusion programme to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs)
10. Use data to measure performance and improve what we do
How we developed the strategy
The strategy’s been developed around the needs of those offline; people who do not have the capability to use the internet. We did this by running a consultation exercise with the public on a checklist for digital inclusion throughout January, to understand what works. We also worked closely with government departments and our digital inclusion stakeholder group to get ideas on what kind of action will help us deliver success.
To help us measure our success, we will use the new digital inclusion scale to track national progress on reducing the digital exclusion of individuals across the population. This scale has been developed using the GDS’ Digital Landscape Research and data from the BBC and Office of National Statistics (ONS). We will continue to use data published annually by the BBC, ONS and our own cross-government research to make sure we are on track.
For organisations we will use another scale, the UK business digital index, developed by Lloyds Banking Group for SMEs and VCSEs; benchmarking their digital capabilities in order to assess what support they’ll need. Lloyds will review and publish the UK business digital index every year.
Using both these scales will help us know where we've made a big difference and where we might need to change what we do. We will report on our progress against the actions through the Government Digital Strategy quarterly progress reports.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the development of the strategy, particularly Graham Walker, Tristan Wilkinson and Clive Richardson from Go ON UK, all the UK Digital Inclusion Charter signatories and the Digital Inclusion leads in Departments.
If you are part of an organisation that is interested in getting further involved or interested in signing up to the charter contact the digital inclusion team at firstname.lastname@example.org.