One in 10 Suffolk people falling behind because they don’t have internet access, charities warn
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Fears have been raised that one in 10 people in Suffolk are being left behind because they do not have access to the internet.
Data from the Office of National Statistics has showed that internet usage in the county has increased by about 11% in the past five years.
But even though the vast majority of today’s services are built around the world wide web, the figures showed 10% of Suffolk’s population do not use the internet either through lack of choice or ability.
That, charities have said, can make it harder for people to get a job or access vital services - as well as potentially increase feelings of isolation.
Jane Sutton, business systems director for Realise Futures - a Suffok-based social enterprise which helps people who are disabled or disadvantaged - said: “People might not be able to claim benefits in the future, access bank accounts etc unless they can do so digitally.”
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Asked if people could be left behind without internet access, she replied: “Yes definitely.”
The organisation helps disadvantaged people in the county without online access to get online by providing training courses and support.
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Jo Reeder, head of fundraising and marketing for Age UK Suffolk, added: “In Suffolk, we have around 170,000 people aged 65 plus, many of whom live in rural and socially isolated areas.
“Helping these people to understand how the use of the internet can assist and benefit them in daily living is extremely important and can help them in an ever-changing digital world.”
National charity The Good Things Foundation also said it was essential for Suffolk to invest in digital skills to prevent people from falling behind and to help the economy.
Anna Osbourne, head of communications and external affairs for the organisation, said: “Providing everyone in the UK with the essential digital skills they need by 2028 will lead to a benefit of £15 for every £1 invested, and a net present value of £21.9billion - but it will also ensure we’re not leaving behind those who can benefit most from digital.
“We have an ambition of getting 100% of the UK digitally included by 2028, and we’re calling on government and other organisations to make a clear commitment to helping us to reach this goal - which we can only achieve by working together.”
The figures were comparable to regional statistics for the east of England, which put the level of internet non-users at 9.4%.