Headlines: November 28th, 2008

Local councils are being urged to have their say in the debate on Digital Inclusion. The Department for Communities and Local Government has also developed some special tools to help local authorities and their partners to understand and deal with the issues of people being excluded from the advance of digital services.

The Digital Inclusion Minister, Paul Murphy, who has launched ‘Delivering Digital Inclusion – an Action Plan for Consultation’ is keen to ensure that councils contribute to the process alongside organisations from the private and third sectors and the general public. The Minister believes the gap between those people who have the access, skills and confidence to use new technologies and those who do not has become an increasingly urgent issue.

“With more than 17 million digitally excluded people in the UK, addressing digital is a new priority for government at all levels,” he said and added, “For local authorities, technology is key in providing innovative and successful services, and key to helping more people overcome problems, gain self confidence and contribute to society.”

Mr. Murphy said the Digital Inclusion Action Plan recognised the good work local partnerships were doing and added, “Digital inclusion may already be part of the delivery plans for local area agreements, but we need to understand ground-level delivery pressures, share experience and expertise, and build future partnerships and capacity.”

In addition to the Action Plan DCLG has developed a number of ways to help councils and local partners understand and address the digital divide. A new team of Digital Inclusion and Data Sharing Advisors will offer local authorities capacity building support. New research is being made available looking at the links between digital and social exclusion, the profiles of some of the vulnerable groups affected, and the costs and benefits of personal data sharing for local strategic partnerships. There is also an online database of successful digital inclusion project, called Solutions4inclusion.