Digital Poverty in the UK: A socio-economic assessment of the implications of digital poverty in the UK.
Prepared by Deloitte for the DPA, this report will help improve the wider public’s understanding of digital poverty, providing justification as to why this issue deserves attention, what can be done and the potential socioeconomic impacts of resolving this widespread problem.
Demonstrating both the impact of digital poverty, and the potential economic gains of tackling the issue, the report sets out data in a way not previously discussed.
The report robustly demonstrates that the potential impact of addressing digital poverty is wide. Doing so has implications across society and could lead to higher earnings, reduced unemployment, reduced social exclusion and generate cost savings for government.
The report provides new estimates of the number of people that are impacted by digital poverty. By adopting a truly inclusive definition, the research finds that the problem is far more pervasive than often assumed.
Millions of people are impacted by digital poverty:
- Approximately 13-19 million people over the age of 16 are experiencing some form of digital poverty.
- Digital Poverty is strongly associated with age. The research estimates that 1 in 2 older adults are in digital poverty, and 1 in 5 are in severe digital poverty.
- However, it is not just older adults who are impacted. Approximately 20% of children are in digital poverty.
- People who are unemployed are estimated to be 2-3 times more likely to be in digital poverty.
But the report finds that billions of pounds in benefits can be unlocked by government, individuals, and business if digital poverty is ended.
Ending digital poverty creates massive benefits:
- Approximately £17 billion increase in yearly earnings due to 6 million people gaining essential digital skills for work.
- An estimated increase of £4-6 billion a year due to 7-9 million people being able to manage their finances better due to digital access.
- Almost £1 billion is estimated in government efficiency savings.
- However, the benefits to society are not only economic; the research estimates that improved digital access along with improved health literacy could reduce mortality among the over 65’s and lead to an estimated 18-24k lives saved per year.
As well as the benefits to be realised from a £17bn annual increase in earnings, the report highlights the £2bn worth of time savings available to 9-13 million people by being able to use online services, such as banking and government provided services.
As well as a saving of £1bn available to GP surgeries across the UK,moving older adults out of digital poverty could save 18,000 to 24,000 lives through better health literacy – and reduce in patient cases by 2,000-3,000 a year through telemedicine.
Putting a value on social exclusion, the report suggests that the value of reduced social isolation due to increased online community access among older adults would be worth £2 billion in individual utility.
Support from Deloitte
Deloitte offered pro bono support to collate, analyse and research the findings of this report. The DPA is grateful for their work to create what we believe is a compelling narrative explaining the impact of digital poverty and the opportunities to be found by government, health services, employers and others in tackling digital poverty once and for all.