Bridging the gap: Empowering local authorities with the Digital Inclusion toolkit

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We’re proud to be an official supporter of the Digital Inclusion Toolkit

dxw has become an official supporter of the Digital Inclusion Toolkit, an independent and comprehensive guide for local authorities to tackle digital inclusion in the UK. 

Our mission at dxw is to build services that fit seamlessly into users’ lives, making public services usable and accessible to all – especially to those most in need. Yet, the digital divide is still with us, and as more and more aspects of modern life move entirely online, millions of people are in danger of missing out.  

Local authorities provide so many of the services we all rely on, and have a vital role to play in bridging the digital divide. The toolkit provides much needed resources to help them set up the right kind of support to tackle digital poverty.   

While it’s true that the majority of people have access to the internet at home, that’s not true of everyone. Ofcom’s most recent Online Nation report says 7% of people still lack internet access at home but the figure for over 65’s is far higher at 18%. 

For the past twenty plus years, governments of all political persuasion have invested billions in providing digital public services. 

While digital public services are legally obliged to provide offline alternatives, these are of variable quality. And with acute and increasing pressure on public spending, the future for these assisted digital channels which are by their nature more expensive to deliver looks far from secure. 

Meanwhile, from banks to utilities to retail, the private sector has increasingly looked online to do business. Whether you want to manage your household bills or book train tickets, it is getting harder to do these things over the phone or in-person.

Quite apart from access to the very services we all rely on to live our lives, there are the less tangible things that people will miss out on by virtue of lack of access. For example, banks close branches as more and more people bank online. Retailers like Debenhams have disappeared from the high street and moved online.

This is why digital inclusion matters and why dxw is proud to support the Digital Inclusion Toolkit. There’s some more information about the toolkit below.

How was the toolkit developed?

100% Digital Leeds and TechResort recognised there was no independent and comprehensive source of digital inclusion advice for local councils. 

They decided to join forces and secured £318k of DLUHC funding in 3 funding rounds from August 2020. An agile multidisciplinary team was formed, led by Leeds City Council and TechResort. They created , a depository for guides, case studies and insights to support councils’ digital inclusion work.

Who is the toolkit for?

Many councils recognise the need to tackle digital exclusion in their areas, even though this is not a statutory service. Some have officers and policy makers responsible for digital exclusion.  Research found these officers are time poor, often juggling these responsibilities with other work. Many are new to the role. Posts are often temporary. This toolkit is designed to help them.

What does the toolkit do?

It provides a comprehensive “how to” guide for digital inclusion work in the public sector and up to date and actionable digital inclusion news. This ensures officers who are often new to post or working part time can quickly access the latest guidance, and avoid making wrong turns and reinventing the wheel.

Feedback from the people using it

“Where have you been all my life? I will be adding this to the Promoting Digital Inclusion group on LinkedIn.”

Essex County Council

“This is so useful! Thanks to all the Digital Inclusion Kit team for pulling it together.”

Manchester County Council

“Thank you for this! The Digital Inclusion Toolkit has been so crucial and informative for us when we developed our strategy”

Oxfordshire County Council