Skip to main content

Digital Inclusion Strategy launches today

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital strategy

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.

Measuring 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.

Digital Inclusion scale

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

Follow Kathy on Twitter, and don't forget to sign up for email alerts.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Laura posted on

    FYI the 'UK business digital index' Lloyds link is broken.

    • Replies to Laura>

      Comment by Louise Duffy posted on

      Hi Laura,

      Sorry about that, it should be fixed now but let us know if not.


  2. Comment by simonfj posted on

    Hi Emily,

    You'll find that linking between similar (project) pages (in different domains, at the same time) is one of the principles of "e-inclusion". e.g. It's just a different approach because of the web effect - as opposed to the old publishing model of having an index at one point/domain (like your list of the first 40 signatories on the charter).

    The skills will be different depending on a group's interests. (You want to access the hadron collider? 🙂 But I guess in this context, you'll be talking about some basic skills - "general" (as they say in my world) as opposed to "specialist".

    Offliners are being encouraged to 'be included', and each will have a different reason for "why be bothered?" It's always a prob that, - like the GDS teams/groups, who work to provide reasons for people to get into the online culture - think that the wheels haven't been invented. But .gov always lags behind .edu

    Govs are now at this point - of catching up with what's been going on, in and between, R&E networks. So can I make the more important point about "groups"? i.e. (where groups are different shapes and sizes )

    It's the basis of the framework/network, with which everyone who works in a silo (edu or gov) is coming to terms. e.g. As you've found out with this project (it's the same with all others) your group of inclusioners are scattered around in so many domains, and you'll be coordinating your activities. So you'll want a communication/collaboration hub (which look something like the local gov's KMhub) in order to share some collaboration tools, and (co-produced) content.

    You can keep these hubs closed, with the idea of designing and building services, separately, in small groups, and then delivering them to your fellow citizens. Or you can share the learning, online, as you go. i.e. Learning by sharing an inquiry rather than "delivering" an education.

    In order to stop the duplication of effort which is going on, you'll want to conjoin the National, and Local, topical groups' perspectives. This is the new networking model. It doesn't change in the research networks, just "the group's" perspective is global rather than national. And we're just getting around to establishing a common directory for them, regardless of the topic.

    If you want to take a big step here, let's get a some unis involved. They could use a GDS education:) Be good.

    • Replies to simonfj>

      Comment by Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team posted on

      Thanks Simon - really interesting to hear your ideas on co-creation and collaboration tools and something that we’ll keep in mind as we look to pilot ideas that could be scaled up nationally. We’ve identified as something we could use with Go ON UK to try and encourage people to share their resources and to signpost people to other rich resources that are already out there; this is currently in beta format and but you can already upload resources if you have them to hand.

  3. Comment by simonfj posted on

    Gee Kathy,

    I like the way that you guys approach this. I'll be pointing a few other govs at the charter page.
    So we have (say) 40 orgs/associations to start the ball rolling. Terrific!

    Would you mind pointing from the charter page to each of the partners' web sites, and please, not at their front page, but to their "digital inclusion" page within their other strategies on their web sites. It would be so useful "embedding digital inclusion into partners’ communications", while identifying where signatories have things in common. e.g. BT and Vodaphone will look at this initiative as helping them grow their markets, and maybe identify (interoperable) shared services, especially the OTT ones.

    I take it you've had the "what should our online learning environment(s) look like?" discussions. So I won't repeat my unsolicited opinion.

    It would be useful to get the network guys from Janet involved now. There are a few tools like eduroam which really do need to be let out of the R&D networks. e.g. It might help the gov silo/institutionalized network managers to bring their networks into into the 21st century, and share them with citizens. That is, if they can get the old guys away from their inboxes, and desks 🙂

    I'll also flag this one again, as I'm sure your strategy won't just be for people who have no reason to go online, yet. It will also be for people in private and public orgs who left their unis long ago. So they won't be into their children's (inter-school) online group culture yet.

    P.S. Just so far as getting the language right. One doesn't say "people who do not have the capability to use the internet". It's important because they use "the internet" every time they use a mobile phone. It's safer to say "cannot use the web" because most people won't recognise the difference between an app and a web page. It's just media for most people. (Excuse my being pendantic. I have that discussion all the time. )

    And thanks Jennifer. Spot on. All the best.

    • Replies to simonfj>

      Comment by Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team posted on

      Thanks Simon - These are all really useful points. We particularly like the idea about linking each of the partners’ digital inclusion pages on to the charter page we’ll do our best to do this where possible . And you’re right to highlight the importance of thinking about the language we use to describe this problem - there’ll be a lot more thinking about this when Go ON UK publish best practice guidance on digitally inclusive language .

  4. Comment by Marnie McCall posted on

    Please, please, please bring back some form of downloadable version of these wonderful documents! .pdf, .rtf, some open doc format.

    Mobile first shouldn't mean mobile only!

    • Replies to Marnie McCall>

      Comment by Phil Turner posted on

      Hi Marnie, I'm a content designer at GDS and I'd be really interested to know why you want to download the strategy.

      As you indicate, you'd expect us to produce publications like this in digital format first. And you should be able to print it no problem.

      But if there's a need and a demand for a downloadable version then that's something we should be thinking about.

      Best, Phil

  5. Comment by Jennifer posted on

    Another way to gain digital inclusion in the community is to provide internet cafes in local parks, community centres, somewhere people can relax and be themself. Ok libraries and jobcentre s provide IT facilities but it makes people les inclined to use them. Where as a cafe, community centre people will be inclined to use it. I have helped people with computers at WRVS and in a church and have seen difference in learners, attending week after week and wanting to learn. I found out that more relaxed environment they are in, the more likely they will want to learn more.

    • Replies to Jennifer>

      Comment by Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team posted on

      Thanks Jennifer - really great to hear your different ideas about what kinds of environments make it easier for people to learn basic digital skills. We’re interested in exploring this and that’s why we’re encouraging businesses like EE and Asda to expand their role in tackling digital exclusion and think about how we can bring learning into people’s daily lives, for example:
      - Asda will launch a national programme of free face-to-face advice sessions on going online in 60 of their stores with The Tinder Foundation.
      - EE will launch a National Techy Tea Party Day in all its stores, contact centres and offices, across the UK on the 9 September, providing support for those seeking help with their digital skills.
      As we start to work with other partners I'm sure that we'll look at other ways we can introduce learning within a more relaxed environment.