The government must tear down the “Berlin Wall of digital literacy” between the UK’s richest and poorest households or risk increasing inequality, according to the chairs of two Westminster committees.
Education Select Committee chair Robert Halfon and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee chair Julian Knight said in a joint statement that the digital divide is “hindering the most disadvantaged in society” and can have a long-term impact on job opportunities.
New research by Vodafone revealed 23 per cent of people from the lowest income households are not confident using a search engine to access government services or apply for a new passport, while this figure is just five per cent in the UK’s richest households.
It also found that 63 per cent of people seeking work said they would benefit from digital skills training, compared to just 36 per cent of the general population.
The report concluded that the UK’s gap in digital skills can “have a significant long-term impact on peoples‘ life chances, affecting their ability to attend online lessons and assessments, build a compelling CV, apply for jobs, and gain the necessary digital skills for many of today’s jobs”.
Halfon, a Tory MP, said the “digital divide cannot be fixed by merely handing out laptops and we need a radical plan to safeguard those most disadvantaged”.