Digital exclusion undermines UK govt plans to become technology superpower, says Lords

The House of Lords has warned the UK government’s “ambition to make the UK a technology superpower and boost economic growth is being undermined by high levels of digital exclusion.”

According to the Communications and Digital Committee report Digital exclusion published today the Government does not have a credible plan to tackle digital exclusion, despite its aims to make the UK the centre of AI regulation internationally.

The Committee pointed the scale of the problem to a “direct consequence of political lethargy”.

The report revealed digital exclusion is being exacerbated by the cost of living crisis which is forcing more households to cut back or cancel their internet packages.

The committee warned that by failing to take decisive action to tackle digital exclusion the government is allowing millions of citizens to fall behind.

Findings revealed that 7m households have no broadband or mobile internet access, with 1m people cutting back or cancelling their internet packages in the last year due to affordability issues.

The committee has urged the UK government to take urgent action to help with the cost of living crisis.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, Chair of the Committee said: “Tackling digital exclusion isn’t as sexy as searching for the next tech unicorn, but we can’t compete as a global player without getting the basics right.

“We have found a distinct lack of leadership in Government to tackle this issue. It is shocking that a digital inclusion strategy has not been produced since 2014 and the Government sees no need for a new one. It is vital we get a grip of this now. The cost of living crisis has made access to the internet unaffordable for many. We need urgent action to ensure people aren’t priced offline. This should include scrapping VAT on social tariffs and more efforts to promote their availability.”

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