Well – the wait is over. As the removal vans herald the change of regime and the special advisers find their new desks in Whitehall, the big question in the digital inclusion world is what might success look like as we enter the next five years with a Labour government?

Looking to the next election, 2029, we want to have seen major change – whilst the expectation of digital poverty as a distant memory, long solved may be overly optimistic, especially as technology will continue to evolve – affordability and skills may not keep pace, a massive reduction in the 19 million adults is essential. And one in five children can’t continue to be without access to tech at home, with edtech and online homework on the ever-increasing rise.

So, how? Labour has previously had a strong interest in digital inclusion, so whilst tackling digital poverty didn’t make it into the final manifesto, all eyes will be on what change is coming for the digitally excluded.

Point one, we need the new government to ensure that basic access and essential digital skills are prioritised as the bedrock of creating a digitally confident UK. The convening power of government, the signposting of the importance of the issue, and the building of digital inclusion into funding for essential services and social value are imperative.

We have to demonstrate that digital poverty sits as the foundation of all forms of poverty – creating a “poverty premium” (where offline services are already more expensive than online alternatives in many cases), and preventing people from accessing education, training and even work. Don’t forget, as of 2023, 90% of jobs were only advertised online. Whilst interventions for the root causes of all types of poverty are key to digital poverty, what we currently see is that those interventions will often require access to digital – whether that’s to access Universal Credit or Skills Bootcamps. Getting people online often comes first as the empowerment for them to improve their family’s circumstances – not a bonus for later.

We need the government to signpost the importance of digital and dispel myths that all kids are digital natives and that having a smartphone is a privilege.

This means creating a cross-government task force that takes in all departments, and most especially key areas such as Education, Health and Social Care, Work and Pensions, and Communities and Local Government (let’s assume Levelling Up won’t survive the weekend as a departmental name). The task force must be clearly accountable and engage with a range of experts and stakeholders who deliver real support to families and individuals up and down the country. We are keen to work with the government to see the actions of our National Delivery Plan taken on board, with a clear, new Digital Inclusion Strategy (given the existing one is from 2014, and a little out of date).

Long-term change takes time. So in the meantime, comprehensive signposting that goes beyond the rhetoric of existing support is essential. Telling people where they can find support and broadening messaging out is essential. Over two-thirds of people would improve their digital skills if only such support was free … except, it is free. People just don’t know where to find the help.

Whilst organisations like us will continue to support individuals who reach out to us from all across the UK with kit, connectivity, skills and support, we all know that a long-term sustainable solution needs to be focussed on tackling the underlying issues. Private and public sectors working together to end the debate of “who pays for the internet” and use mesh and open-roaming to find creative solutions. A clear set of rules around the right to repair and built-in obsolescence of devices. Building digital and media literacy into educational curriculums in a way that ensures children and young people have access to one-to-one devices, and teachers are confident to teach the basic skills to every child – not just those who choose after school coding clubs.

And this isn’t solely about the winning party. There’s a key role for the opposition and all other parties represented in Westminster to join our calls for action and ensure those who are digitally excluded are given the priority they need. Whether that’s in constituencies or in the House of Commons, we need MPs to truly represent their voters and underline the importance of digital access.

So to the government and all politicians, we say – we’re here, and we’re ready to help drive this forward, with a wide network of organisations. We’ve done the hard part, we’ve consulted and gathered the solutions. Will you work with us – to end digital poverty once and for all?

Elizabeth Anderson is the Digital Poverty Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer.