Working with financially disadvantaged learners
The financial cost of being online is a barrier for many groups of learners.
Having cheaper internet and devices would make a difference to a third of those who are not currently using the internet (Lloyds Consumer Digital Index).
There is a also a financial cost to not being online which in 2016 was calculated as £744 (Lloyds Consumer Digital Index) per year.
Those who are Digital First can save 6% on their gas, electricity and water bills.
More and more people are only online through a smartphone. This reduces their online access to some services but does mean they benefit from online cost savings provided for instance by shopping online.
Some projects have successfully found ways to reduce the costs of being online for their learners.
One solution is for projects to build relationships with tech providers to give access to free or reduced cost devices for people on low incomes:
Age UK South Lakeland offered a tablet loan scheme with MiFi access for three months.
You can find more information on their project research and offer here. They found that often the older people they worked with would purchase a similar tablet at the end of the loan scheme. They provided advice on device purchases and broadband packages. Providing devices supported digital skills learning and gave older people opportunities to practice use of a device.
Family Fund provide essential information and financial support to families on low incomes who are raising children with disabilities.
In 2017/18 they provided 12,481 computers and tablets to families across the UK. Their research suggested nearly 50% of the families they worked with were digitally excluded. They also provide training for the families who receive a technology grant. Their digital offer helped to increase the digital confidence of the families by 40%.
BT provide BT Basic which offers reduced cost telephone and broadband packages to people on income-based benefits.
A package currently costs £9.95 a month. To apply call 0800 800 864 (8am to 6pm Mondays to Fridays).
You must be getting one of these benefits and be the named account holder to apply:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
- Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)
- Universal Credit (and are on zero earnings).
- Jargon Buster – broadband jargon explained by Ofcom & Which
- Free digital skills training for families with disabled or seriously ill children and young people, by Family Fund
- Learn My Way – free digital courses for learners and tutors
- Boost Your Broadband – tools for consumers, provided by Ofcom & Which, to find a faster service or cheaper package
- BT Basic – low cost phone and broadband packages for people on income-based benefits
- GetOnline@Home, provided by Computer Recyclers – recycled computers and tablets at affordable prices
Many internet service providers
give free, or reduced price,
anti-virus software as part of their package
Research, Reports and Publications
- Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2019 – study of transactional, behavioural & attitudinal research and the UK’s measure of Essential Digital Skills for life and work
- Building Digital Confidence – report evaluating Family Fund’s Digital Skills programme
- How ‘smartphone only’ internet users are locked out of digital life blog post by Citizens Advice Scotland
- Service Design Project Report 2019 by Digital Access for All, following interviews with families of school age children who were experiencing digital exclusion
- Understanding the barriers to engagement by Age UK – presentation from our event about making digital accessible for everyone
- Building Beneficiaries Digital Confidence by Family Fund – presentation from our event about making digital accessible for everyone
- Benefits claimants and online government services – paper by the Digital Equality Group on how to access to government services
- Universal Credit — Digital Inclusion’s Unruly Party Guest – blog post by Citizens Online