Welsh government beats digital exclusion targets

The Welsh Government has published a set of revised targets for reducing digital exclusion after surpassing its original aims.

In an update of its Digital Inclusion Delivery Plan, firts published in 2011, the government said that its original objective to reduce digital exclusion among adults to 25% by 2015 had already been met. Its figures show that the proportion now stands at 21% and the updated plan is now aiming for 18% by 2015 and 13% by 2017.

In a written statement, Jeff Cuthbert, Welsh minister for communities and tackling poverty said: “Developments in devices like smartphones and tablets, improvements in internet speeds and easy to use online services have enhanced the digital experience for users and 79%  of people in Wales now use the internet, compared with the estimated 66% in 2010.

“Positive progress has been made towards all of the targets set out in the 2011 delivery plan.”

The progress report also found that a target to reduce levels of exclusion among the over-50s to 38% had been achieved. A new target will aim to reduce this to 35% by 2015 and 30% by 2017.

But it said that despite a focus on the area of social housing tenants, progress had been slower, demonstrating “the multiple challenges of addressing digital  exclusion amongst this group”.

It also found that there was risk to digital inclusion delivery from potential closures of  public  libraries across Wales.

“Libraries provide critical infrastructure and support for digital inclusion within a trusted setting, so significant closures will reduce the number of venues where  community based sessions could be delivered,” it said.

The progress report also said that some areas, such as moving to open source, developing a common authentication approach and using the cloud had “been challenging  as it requires some quite fundamental technical and cultural changes”.

Cuthbert said closer working with local authorities, housing associations, public libraries and Job Centre Plus, would be vital in achieving the revised targets.

Colin Marrs

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