Putting a price on a digitally included Britain

A national commitment to ensure basic online skills for everyone by 2020 would cost some £875 million - an annual investment of £146 million over a 6-year period.

The new price for a digitally included Britain is revealed in a report launching today - the first time a realistic estimate has been calculated for the investment needed to create a 100% digitally skilled nation.

There are still 11 million people without Basic Online Skills in the UK, who can’t send and receive email, use a search engine, browse the internet or complete online forms.

The report - A Leading Digital Nation by 2020 - was commissioned by Tinder Foundation and Go ON UK, and uses information on the profile of this 11 million and current interventions to get them online. It factors in the barriers, challenges and costs to upskill the hardest to reach groups - including 2 million people of working age and 4 million retired citizens.

Without increased investment, the report found that around 6.2 million people will remain without basic online skills in 2020.

Creating a 100% digitally skilled nation is a vision which has gained momentum since policy makers and business forecasters started counting the cost of digital exclusion in billions - in terms of lost revenue for UK PLC, potential savings for Government, and missed opportunities for citizens.

With countries like Norway already achieving internet use-age rates of 98%, the suggestion is that we adopt an accelerated approach to reap the benefits of a 100% digitally skilled nation by 2020.

The report encourages government and partners in the private and voluntary sectors to act now to share the investment needed to ensure everyone in the UK benefits from what the web has to offer. That’s £292 million per sector - a £50 million annual investment.

Lord Jim Knight of Weymouth is Chair of the Tinder Foundation. He said: “The fact is that digital exclusion costs Britain money. Not having the access, motivation or skills to use the internet has a real social and human impact, affecting pay, health, educational attainment and more. In turn, that has an economic impact, and it’s holding Britain back. Over the last five years the evidence has grown to show how a 100% digital nation could make Britain truly Great - saving the government and NHS billions of pounds, boosting the economy and building human capital. The cost of digital inclusion - based on this new model - is a drop in the ocean compared to the potential savings and benefits of investment. So let’s be bold. Let’s work together. And let’s get it done by 2020.”

Graham Walker, CEO of Go ON UK said: “GO ON UK's vision is to bring partners together from all sectors to make the UK the world's most digitally skilled nation. I welcome this report as a contribution to the debate on the investment required from all sectors to achieve our goal. If by 2020, we leave 6.2 million, largely poor and older adults without basic online skills then we will have failed. The report suggests that £146 million annual investment will ensure everyone in the UK has basic online skills by 2020. The government alone spends more that £4 billion annually on adult skills and training. We are asking the government and organisations in all sectors to urgently review their current training and skills investments to ensure that the UK reaps the huge social and economic benefits of universal Internet use. "

The cost of inclusion - key facts and figures from the report

  • 11 million - number of people in 2013 who don’t have basic online skills
  • £875 million - cost of basic online skills for everyone by 2020
  • £292 million - investment split across the three sectors
  • £50 million - annual investment over 6 years required from public, private and voluntary sectors
  • £47 - £319 - calculated range of costs of intervention per person, depending on people’s historical use of the internet and other considerations
  • 89% - percentage of the UK with basic online skills in 2020 without accelerated investment

The cost of exclusion - key facts and figures

  • £108 million - estimated savings for the NHS if just 1% of their face-to-face visits were converted to NHS Choices visits
  • £1.7 million - Government Digital Service figure on potential savings per annum of a digital by default government
  • £560 - potential average of household savings if a family starts to shop and pay bills online
  • £63 billion - Booz & Co total figure for the potential benefit of becoming a leading digital nation in the global economy.

Next: Digital skills in libraries

11 February 2014

Tinder Foundation has recently won a contract to develop training for the public libraries workforce