Today, September 12th 2023, is national ‘End Digital Poverty’ day. Below are some key points about what the issue is, who is driving the campaign, and what we can do to support it together.
How to define ‘Digital Poverty’
The Digital Poverty Alliance – see below – define ‘digital poverty’ as “the inability to interact with the online world fully, when, where and how an individual needs to”.
Digital poverty exacerbates wider poverty, divides society socially and culturally, and generates economic and social inequalities. While it continues, the ability of society to move forward together remains uncertain.
What is ‘End Digital Poverty’ day?
End Digital Poverty day is a nationwide initiative, driven by the Digital Poverty Alliance, dedicated to raising awareness about the pressing issue of digital poverty in the UK; it is an opportunity for all to come together to address this urgent issue head-on.
By working together on this the hope is to raise awareness, promote practical actions, and rally support from individuals and organisations to make a tangible difference.
The work of addressing digital poverty goes far beyond this one day.
Digital Poverty in Four Numbers
When thinking about digital poverty it can be hard to recognise its breadth and scale; especially if you personally are not affected by it. The Digital Alliance promotes 4 statistics that try to break through that veil and highlight how this issue should be put into context.
According to them:
- 1 in 5 children homeschooling during the pandemic did not have access to an appropriate device like a laptop;
- 26% of young people currently do not have access to a laptop or similar device;
- 56% of people offline can’t afford an average monthly broadband bill; and,
- 2.5 million people are behind on their broadband bills.
This is an urgent issue generating a growing divide.
What does Digital Poverty mean to our communities?
Here, in local Citizens Advice offices across the country, we know as well as anyone the issues and impacts of digital poverty in our communities.
Whether in the form of a lack of digital access, a lack of digital literacy, a lack of digital support infrastructure, or as the victims of growing forms of digital discrimination we see clients everyday unable to obtain or retain their entitlements from government, exercise their legal rights, or secure what they have paid for via public and commercial service providers.
Effective and cheap communication, vital information gathering and sharing, and the ability to hold others accountable are essential in the proper exercise of legal rights and societal norms.
Values which underpin the aspirations of a modern society such as equal access to the law and being able to compete on a level playing field in the ‘markets’ for employment and training, education, health and housing services are all undermined if commonplace service provision becomes ‘digital-by default’ before those that need support the most have become ‘digital-by-default’ themselves.
Digital poverty is a classic “something must be done” issue. ‘End Digital Poverty’ day is an attempt to raise awareness of that and give interested parties the opportunities to make their contribution to this non-political cause.
To find out more about how you can support this campaign, today and in the future, go to https://digitalpovertyalliance.org/end-digital-poverty-day/
Most of the content for this piece was extracted from the campaign website of the Digital Poverty Alliance.
The Digital Poverty Alliance was established in 2021 by the Learning Foundation, Currys plc and the Institute of Engineering and Technology.
It is now funded by donations from the public, organisations, and charities across the UK. It does receive government funding.
In their own words they “convene, compel and inspire collaboration for the UK & global community to lead sustainable action against digital poverty”, working to end digital poverty for all by 2030.
For more information on the Digital Poverty Alliance go to https://digitalpovertyalliance.org/ .