Digital exclusion levels ‘linked to deprivation’

The worst digital exclusion is likely to be found in rural council areas in Scotland and Wales, according to a new heatmap breaking down levels by local authority.

Digital inclusion charity Go On has released the map with support from the Local Government Association and London School of Economics and Political Science, supported by the BBC.

It shows that no council in England falls within the category indicating the highest likelihood of exclusion, with six across Wales and Scotland.

Councils suffering from the highest likelihood are Conwy, Anglesey, Pembrokshire and Rhondda, Cynon Taff in Wales, plus Dumfries and Galloway and Highland in Scotland.

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The research found that the highest levels of basic digital skills are found in Greater London (84%), while Scotland and East Anglia both scored 81%.

The lowest are in Wales, where only 62% of adults have the five basic digital skills. Internet access is also the lowest in Wales.

Eight different metrics were used to calculate the overall likelihood of exclusion. Four of these are digital metrics (infrastructure, access, basic digital skills and basic digital skills used), which have been aggregated to provide a combined digital indicator.

Four are social metrics (age, education, income and health), which were aggregated to create a combined social indicator.

Ellen Helsper, associate professor at the LSE, who developed the methodology behind the map, said the results clearly demonstrate that social and digital exclusion are closely related, with the lack of basic digital skills and access in already disadvantaged areas likely to lead to an increase in inequality of opportunity around the UK.

Colin Marrs

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