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How do we solve digital exclusion to achieve growth in a cost-of-living crisis? Lords Committee to investigate

Thursday 9 February 2023

The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee has today launched a new inquiry into digital exclusion and how the cost-of-living crisis will impact on it.

Concern has been growing about digital exclusion. A significant number of people across the UK still do not have adequate access to digital technologies and online services. The challenges for people and families who are digitally excluded have become more acute as more services have moved online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are increasing concerns that the cost-of-living crisis will worsen digital exclusion, with 35% of people saying in a recent survey that rising costs of living will affect their ability to go online. Recent reports suggest that tackling digital exclusion could have significant benefits for economic growth and individual wellbeing.

Commenting on the launch, Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Committee, said:

The ability and resources to operate effectively online are increasingly vital for everyone. Many aspects of life now operate exclusively online.

“Tackling the digital divide will be vital for delivering growth and economic prosperity. It is clear that for many people there are significant barriers to operating effectively online. These barriers can include a lack of confidence, a lack of digital skills, poor access to appropriate broadband, and poverty preventing access to equipment or internet access. The last of these is likely to be made worse by the current cost of living pressures.

“Our inquiry will look at how the rising cost of living will affect digital exclusion and limit growth; crucially will seek to identify solutions and how the issue can be tackled.”

The Committee will be seeking evidence on how the digital divide.

The Committee are inviting written evidence to be submitted by Tuesday 7 March.

Some questions the Committee are seeking evidence on include:

  • What are the main causes of digital exclusion in the UK? What is the economic and social impact?
  • How has the rising cost of living affected digital exclusion? To what extent does digital exclusion make cost of living pressures more severe?
  • What are the obstacles to greater digital inclusion? Where is policy intervention likely to have the greatest impact over the next 12 months and 5 years?
  • How effective are government and industry efforts to tackle digital exclusion? How can they be improved?
  • How effective is civil society at supporting digital inclusion? How could this work be enhanced, and what is the appropriate balance between civil society and Government intervention?
  • What lessons can be learned from other countries?

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