A date has finally been set - a UK General Election has been called. The stakes couldn't be higher, and here's why digital inclusion needs to be a priority for the next Government. 
As the United Kingdom gears up for a General Election on July 4th, the future of our society hangs in the balance. For us at the Keeping Digital Foundation, a digital inclusion charitable organisation dedicated to ensuring every resident has equal opportunity to get online, this election is a critical juncture. We urge all political parties and candidates to recognise the fundamental importance of digital inclusion and make it a cornerstone of their policy agendas. 

The Importance of Digital Inclusion 

In today’s interconnected world, digital inclusion is not a luxury; it is a necessity. The internet is the backbone of modern society, offering access to essential services, educational resources, job opportunities, and social connectivity. However, millions of people across the UK remain digitally excluded, unable to fully participate in this digital age due to lack of access, skills, or confidence. This digital divide exacerbates existing inequalities and marginalises those who are already vulnerable. 

Bridging the Digital Divide, once and for all 

Access to Information and Services: In a world where more services are moving online, from banking to the NHS to government services, those without internet access are at a significant disadvantage. They struggle to perform everyday tasks, access critical information, and engage with services that many of us take for granted. 
Educational Opportunities: The educational landscape has transformed with digital technology. From online courses to virtual classrooms, the internet provides limitless learning opportunities. Yet, students without reliable internet access or digital devices are left behind, widening the educational attainment gap. 
Employment and Economic Growth: The job market increasingly favours digital literacy. Many job applications, training programs, and professional networks are now online. Without digital skills, individuals are less competitive in the job market, which impacts economic growth and personal livelihoods. 
Social Inclusion: Social isolation is a growing concern, especially among the elderly and those with disabilities. The internet can be a lifeline, offering social interaction, support networks, and community engagement. Digital inclusion fosters social cohesion and enhances quality of life. 

The Role of the next UK Government 

The next UK Government must take decisive action to promote digital inclusion. Here are key areas that need attention: 
 
Infrastructure Investment: Ensure high-speed internet access is available to all, particularly in rural and underserved urban areas. This requires significant investment in broadband infrastructure and technology. 
Affordable Access: Work with internet service providers to make broadband affordable for low-income families. Subsidies or pricing models, like Social Broadband Tariffs, that make connectivity accessible to all residents are essential. 
Digital Skills Training: Implement nationwide digital literacy programs to equip individuals with the necessary skills to navigate the online world. Schools, libraries, and community centres should serve as hubs for digital education, similar to our Digital Cafes format. 
Accessible Technology: Promote the development and distribution of devices and software that are accessible to people with disabilities. Technology should be a bridge, not a barrier, for those with additional needs. 
Public Awareness Campaigns: Raise awareness about the importance of digital inclusion and the resources available to support individuals in getting online. Public campaigns can demystify technology and encourage adoption among hesitant users. 
 
As we approach this pivotal election, we call on all political leaders to commit to a vision of the UK where everyone can participate in the digital world. Digital inclusion is not just about technology; it’s about fairness, opportunity, and empowerment. By prioritising digital inclusion, the next UK Government can build a more equitable, connected, and prosperous society for all. 
 
Let’s make digital inclusion a reality. For every resident. For a better UK. 
 
The next UK Government cannot continue to fail the most vulnerable. 
Luke Castle 
Co-Founder and Community Coordinator at the Keeping Digital Foundation 

Luke 

Co-Founder and Community Coordinator 
Tagged as: Digital Inclusion
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