You couldn’t move this week without tripping over a report on internet data. The Office for National Statistics published its latest report on usage, while communications regulator Ofcom revealed that the average UK adult now spends more time using communications devices like smartphones and tablets than they do sleeping.
In fact, since such surveys started in 2006, the ONS reckons another six million households have gained internet access. But that still means four million households in Great Britain are not online – a large proportion of these being households with one person aged 65 or over.
The reasons for this vary, but they are nothing new to the Keep Me Posted campaign. Of those 4 million households, 53 per cent said they didn’t need the internet – they were quite happy going about their daily lives without logging on, even if it was available in their area, which in many rural places is not the case.
Another 32 per cent said they didn’t have the skills needed to use it – even among those who do log on, around 11 million lack the basic skills to send emails or fill in an online form, so they are not alone.
Five per cent said some kind of disability prevented them going online – again something we hear all the time from the organisations supporting disabled people who back us. Then there are another 11 per cent who say the cost of buying such equipment and maintaining access to the web is prohibitive.
Ofcom reckons the average monthly household spend on communications had fallen in 2013, to £117.08. £117.08! Well it may have been a fall, and I know there are packages out there which cost less, but in reality, how are people on a small pension or who have a low household income supposed to afford that kind of money? In these days when we’re told people are choosing between heating and eating in the colder months, that’s an astronomical sum.
And that’s why companies need to take into account all those people who are not online, for all those various reasons, and ensure they are offering a choice when it comes to giving them information such as bills and statements on paper. They should not be made to feel left out, or in any way “second class” for not having the internet. It’s a reality for around seven million people and it’s time businesses recognised that and insisted on giving their customers choice.
Access the reports here: