Web map provides snapshot of region’s ‘digital exclusion’

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New research indicates that 14.7% of adults in the Borders have never been online.

“Too many people and organisations are still missing out on the benefits the internet has to offer,” claimed Go ON UK, the digital skills charity, as it launched the UK’s first so-called digital exclusion heat map this week.

The map has been assembled and published in a joint venture involving the BBC, the Local Government Association, the London School of Economics & Political Science and Lloyds Bank.

And, in terms of exclusion, it gives the Borders a “medium” rating – on a par with central Scotland but with considerably more digital engagement than neighbouring Dumfries & Galloway which is rated “low” and where 20.6% of adults have never used the internet.

It says that 10.7% of households in the Borders do not currently receive broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second – the basic broadband speed as defined by the UK Government.

The map reveals that 75% of Borders adults have all five basic digital skills – to manage information, communicate, transact, problem solve and create digital content – and that 36% of adults have used these skills in the last three months.

The researchers claim that age, education, income and health are key indicators and predictors of digital exclusion among adults. And it suggests that the Borders has a high likelihood of such exclusion because 23.1% of adults are over 65 years of age, 50.59% of adults have no educational qualifications, £20,400 is the average income per taxpayer in the region and 25.2% of adults have a long-term disability.

“Being over 65 contributes significantly to the likelihood of individuals being offline and lacking in basic digital skills,” claimed the charity.

“Affordability also is one of the key barriers to people accessing the internet.”

Go ON UK said the research was part of its commitment to “eradicate digital exclusion and ensure everyone in the UK has the motivation and skills needed to benefit and prosper from the internet today and in the future”.