In December Deloitte published their report into Digital Poverty Digital Poverty in the UK: A socio-economic assessment of the implications of digital poverty in the UK. In partnership with the Digital poverty Alliance Deloitte undertook research and analysis to understand the scale of Digital Poverty in the UK and the potential cost benefits of eradicating it. The reports findings resonated with the descriptions of digital poverty we have heard from community organisations the Virgin Money Foundation has worked with. That digital poverty affects people on low incomes disproportionately; that it is not just an issue affecting older adults but also children and young people; that the people in our communities that experience the highest levels of social exclusion are also those most likely to experience digital exclusion. Perhaps most significantly, it confirmed our belief that addressing digital poverty opens the door to a wide range of vital outcomes that really matter to people.
The Virgin Money Foundation kicked off 2024 with a new strategy focused upon tackling digital poverty. Under the new strategy we will continue supporting neighbourhood based local charities, ‘community anchors’ who work with local people to create positive change. Over the next few years the change we seek will start with tackling digital poverty, in doing so dismantling one of the barriers that prevents people from securing employment, applying for the benefits they are entitled to, accessing healthcare, bidding for housing or connecting with loved ones. Whilst the talk will be tackling digital poverty, the impacts, we hope, will be much broader.
The Digital Poverty Alliance has developed a roadmap for ending digital poverty by 2030, which you can find here. One of the key requirements it sets out is ensuring that community organisations are enabled to provide digital inclusion support in their community. Through our funding under this strategy, we are working to enable that support to be available. We have no doubt that community organisations are key in this mission. People go for support to the people that they trust. They learn best from those who will walk alongside them. On the platform of the incredible relationships community anchor organisations have built in their neighbourhoods and with creativity, skill and stealth we know that community anchors’ have the unique ability to support local people to gain digital access and develop digital confidence.