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The House of Lords has criticized the government’s response—or lack thereof—to the report from the Communications and Digital Committee outlining how it can deal with the UK’escalating levels of modern exclusion.

While the government acknowledges that there are many people in the UK who are technologically excluded, it has already accomplished so much with its present plans that it is not necessary to develop a new strategy to address this issue, according to its response to the report’s recommendations. It gave a similar response to several different suggestions put forth by the committee.

According to Tina Stowell, chair of the House of Lords ‘ Communications and Digital Committee,” Digital exclusion is never a problem that will solve itself.” ” It is an ongoing challenge, and we need clear guidance from the government on how they will prioritize ensuring that people are not left behind or excluded when it comes to taking advantage of the advantages of being online.”

She continued,” Our report outlined a number of crucial areas where the government could lead in bridging the digital divide, including by fostering the confidence and skills of those with the lowest levels of digital capability.”

The government has reiterated that modern exclusion is a top priority in their response, but their actions fall short of the claim. When the key strategy for assisting people in keeping pace in like a fast-moving area is more than ten years old, it is merely untrue to claim that it has been given priority.

According to Stowell,” It is disappointing that the government’s response has never addressed the committee ‘ good challenge and signaled the ambition needed to close the modern divide for the UK to thrive as a tech superpower.”

There are still many adults in the UK who lack the modern skills required to complete simple digital tasks, as well as many other people who are unable to access the internet, despite the fact that digital is becoming more and more important for day-to-day life.

When the key strategy for assisting people in keeping pace in such a fast-moving area is more than ten years old, it is just not believable to assert that tackling digital exclusion should be given priority.
Communications and Digital Committee, Tina Stowell

The Lords ‘ report’s key recommendation was to develop a new Digital Inclusion Strategy to take the place of the current, almost ten-year-old one.

Additionally, it urged the government to facilitate people access to the internet and mobile devices, make it simpler for education institutions to provide a range of people with online skills training, and take additional steps to guarantee that smaller telecom providers can provide those in need with internet access.

However, the government did not fully support some of these points in its response, which emphasized online inclusion as” a priority” for the administration and claimed that numerous measures have already been taken to support those who might not have access to the internet.

The government claimed that the original strategy, developed in 2014,” continue[s ] to inform” decisions made regarding digital access and skills, with digital inclusion being included in all policy areas rather than being tackled as an individual issue, and that a new Digital Inclusion Strategy is not necessary. However, the government stated that it would set up an inter-ministerial committee to look into what departments involved in digitization can do to donate devices to those who may not have access to tech.

Additionally, the government stated that it would not establish a” clearer definition” of what constitutes an internet access cultural tariff or set modern skill targets for various stages of people’s lives or educational levels.

The Lords characterized the response as “lacking ambition” and “failing to engage” with the issues raised by the committee’s inquiry and later recommendations regarding the absence of modern inclusion in the UK.

” To ensure that we can achieve our goal of eradicating online poverty by 2030, it is important that government, businesses, and the next sector work up.”
Digital Poverty Alliance Elizabeth Anderson

While the work being done is favorable, there is still much work to be done, according to Elizabeth Anderson, interim CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance. This is especially true given how quickly technology is being adopted, which is widening the gap between online skills and access.

It is disappointing to see that there will be no new strategy to address this evolving immediate issue as more important services, from homework to welfare services- move online only, she said. Statistics show that 13 to 19 million people over the age of 16 are experiencing some form of online poverty, while it is estimated that 20 % of children are in this poverty.

To make sure that the millions of people who are offline are never left behind- with fresh ideas and innovation.” Government needs to adopt a long-term and strategic approach.” We especially appreciate the cross-departmental group’s efforts to address the problem, and we look forward to working with the government in the future. To ensure that we can achieve our goal of eradicating electronic poverty by 2030, it is crucial that government, business, and the next sector collaborate.

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