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Apps can help with the cost of living crisis. But what if you can’t use them?

The cost of living has been increasing across the UK since early 2021 alongside an unprecedented energy crisis. With benefits looking unlikely to rise with inflation, this will have a huge impact on many who are already struggling.

In an increasingly digital world, there are many apps and websites that can help you through this time. Whether it's a banking app or a council online hub, people are able to turn to the online world to access health and education information, financial inclusion and digital pathways to economic independence.

However, with an estimated 11.7 million people in the UK without the digital skills needed for everyday life and almost 9 million people unable to use the internet and their device by themselves, the digital divide is adding new digital dimensions to poverty.

Digital inequality has been excluding the economically disadvantaged for years and its rapidly expanding. It is vital that those facing hardship can access financial help quickly; however, if online platforms are the solution, how do we help those offline? People with lower incomes are less likely to have access to smartphones. They are also more likely to be on pay-monthly contracts and data plans, and like prepayment electricity meters, often paying a much higher rate for a vital service. Digital exclusion amplifies other existing inequalities, compounding the effects of poverty.

Many of us will be digitally budgeting and tracking spending in order to manage our bills and ensure we pay as little as possible for our fuel and other amenities. The online world plays a part, providing us with resources that help us to manage our outgoings and to feel more secure during such an uncertain time. However, this is only effective if the infrastructure is rolled out with the right support. This means not just having a smartphone or laptop, but also the skills to use them and an internet connection. Small organisations across the UK are working extremely hard to support communities online, but significant change will only take place if we work together. If we don’t, many will be left behind, unable to access the advantages that being online brings.

For us that means working collaboratively with organisations such as ClearCommunityWeb to support parents in Lambeth. At Henry Fawcett Primary school over 57% of children qualify for the pupil premium, highlighting how just many young families are struggling. Our wonderful partners, the DS Group, are raising money to support a valuable digital inclusion project to support these young families online.

Reaching New Heights: Digital Inclusion 4 Families are more vital than ever in helping families facing the challenges of an uncertain future for themselves and their children. As with everyone of our beneficiaries, we want to see people not just survive but thrive!


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