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What is digital inclusion – and why does it matter?

10% of people in Wales today are not online. As more and more vital public services are being delivered online, these people are at danger of being left behind. Organisations which work with the public, particularly in the health and care sector, need to think about how to increase digital inclusion so that everyone in Wales can benefit.

Digital inclusion means having the motivation, skills and access to use digital technology and the internet.

People who lack one, or a combination, of these skills may be digitally excluded and risk being left behind in an increasingly digital society where more and more services, including vital public services, go online.


Digital inclusion in Wales

10% of the population of Wales (300,000 people) are digitally excluded. These are likely to be older, less educated and in poorer health than the rest of the population.

Digitally excluded people are some of the heaviest users of health and social care services, so risk being left behind in the digital health revolution.

Digitally excluded people are likely to be:

  • Older – 40% of people over 75 use the internet, compared with 97% of 16-49 year olds.
  • Have a disability or long term condition – 74% of people with a disability or long term condition use the internet, compared with 90% of those without.
  • Less well educated – 53% of those with no qualifications use the internet, compared with 95% of those with higher education qualifications

There are clear public policy and equality reasons for improving digital inclusion, as well as a strong business case.


What are the benefits of being online?

The benefits of being online for people, especially older people, unemployed people and those living in social housing, include:
  • Time saved through accessing services digitally.
  • Cost saved through accessing services and purchasing goods digitally.
  • Reduced loneliness and isolation.
  • Increased employability.
  • Improved self-care for minor ailments.
  • Improved self-management of long term health conditions.
The benefits for organisations, particularly in the health and care system, are:
  • Improved take-up of digital tools and services.
  • Lower cost of delivering services digitally.
  • More appropriate use of services, including advice services, primary care and urgent care.

The most recent analysis of the economic impact of digital inclusion comes in a report prepared by Cebr (Centre for Economics and Business Research) for Good Things Foundation and published in September 2018. This suggests a net present value of providing everyone in the UK with digital skills of £21.9 billion.

Savings by 2028 include:

  • Time savings from undertaking government and financial transactions online – £1.1 billion.
  • Transactional benefits from shopping online – £1.1 billion.
  • Communication benefits from keeping in touch, reducing isolation and participating in recreational and cultural activities – £400 million

Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being can work with your organisation to help you take practical action to support digital inclusion locally. Contact us to find out how we can help.

How can DCW support you?

About Digital Communities Wales

Digital inclusion in health and care