Cabinet go ahead for digital inclusion strategy paves ways for team to ensure online services are accessible to all
Birmingham City Council will create a digital inclusion team aimed at ensuring that the city’s most vulnerable and excluded citizens can access online services.
The initiative is part of a Digital Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan, which was agreed at a cabinet meeting on 7 September.
This means that a digital inclusion team will operate from January 2022 for two years, with funding from Birmingham’s Community Recovery Plan Reserve.
The aim is to ensure that every citizen has easy access to an internet-enabled device such as a computer, laptop or smartphone, ideally within their own household.
Online sessions providing tuition to help people to develop their digital skills will be set up in communities across the city.
Targeted intervention and signposting should make sure everyone can maximise and build on their digital skills, removing the barriers for the most digitally excluded.
In a report to the cabinet, Raj Mack, Birmingham’s head of business engagement, information, technology and digital services, wrote that Covid 19 had highlighted the importance of digital inclusion for all age groups. Although over-65s remained the largest excluded group, there were other groups that need intervention and support.
They include 12% of those aged between 11 and 18 years who are not able to access the internet at home from a computer or tablet. More than 23% of adult internet non-users are disabled, compared with only 6% of those without a disability.
The council said it is already helping citizens access digital devices. Some 1,000 devices have been made available to young vulnerable school children. This has been achieved by the council working jointly with the Digital Education Partnership, consisting of Birmingham’s education and digital bodies