In today’s digital age, access to information, education, and opportunities hinges on connectivity. However, within the UK, a stark digital divide persists, leaving millions in a state of isolation. A recent and insightful video from The Guardian, titled “The Digital Divide: could you live without the internet?”, highlights this issue, revealing that an estimated 1 in 7 people are living in a state of digital exclusion.

This gap disproportionately affects older adults and roughly 20% of children, exacerbating socio-economic disparities and hindering access to education, employment, and social interaction. It’s not merely a gap; it’s a deep chasm widening with each technological advancement, excluding swathes of the population from the digital benefits.

The consequences of this divide ripple through UK society, impacting individual earnings, government service efficiency, and social cohesion. It impedes the dissemination of vital public health information, restricts access to digital services, and intensifies feelings of isolation among the digitally disconnected. The urgency to bridge this gap is underscored by the potential economic benefits, amounting to billions of pounds, that achieving digital inclusivity could unlock.

At the Digital Poverty Alliance, we lead efforts to address this issue. Our advocacy for systemic reforms is grounded in the belief that digital access and literacy are fundamental to building a fair and equitable society. Our mission emphasises the need for a comprehensive national strategy to ensure every individual can navigate, contribute to, and benefit from the digital landscape.

In this pivotal moment of digital evolution, the imperative for action is stronger than ever in the UK. While technological innovation offers opportunities, it also risks leaving more individuals behind, deepening existing inequalities. It is our collective responsibility to ensure everyone in the UK has the chance to thrive, learn, work, and connect in the digital era.

Closing the digital divide in the UK requires a united and sustained effort across industry, government, the third sector, and the wider community. Our vision for digital inclusion is ambitious, aiming to promote digital literacy, enhance access to devices and connectivity, and advocate for meaningful systemic change.

By championing digital inclusion, we confront the immediate challenges of the digital divide in the UK and pave the way for a future where digital participation is accessible to all. Our call to action is driven by the conviction that in our era, access to the digital realm is not just advantageous – it’s imperative for the UK’s progress and cohesion.

Joel Tiller, Head of Policy and Insights

Watch the full video here: