Updating Assembly Members on the Welsh Government’s work towards tackling digital exclusion Jane Hutt said:
“Everyone should be able to benefit from using the latest digital technologies yet in 2010 a third of the adult Welsh population were not accessing the internet.
“For an individual this can mean not being able to apply for jobs that are increasingly only advertised online, not being able to save money by getting better deals on fuel bills or car insurance and, increasingly, not getting your voice heard as complaints processes and petitions are online.
“I am particularly concerned to ensure that digital proposals in the UK Government Welfare Reforms don’t result in excluding some of the most disadvantaged people in Wales from these services.
“Our Digital Inclusion Framework showed that the majority of the digitally excluded in Wales are likely to be older people, the unemployed, residents of social housing or disabled people. Therefore our digital inclusion activity is focussed on these groups.”
The Welsh Government has set a target to reduce digital exclusion to 25% of the adult population by 2015. The most recent Ofcom figures on broadband take-up, published in 2011, show a seven per cent decrease in exclusion since 2010 to 29%.
Jane Hutt added:
“We are making good progress towards our target but there is still work to be done. As a Government we will continue to ensure that our policies, strategies and initiatives align with our vision of a digitally inclusive Wales.
“I have visited a number of projects over the last year and each time I have been very impressed by the positive impact the internet can have on people. Whether it is care home residents learning how to use Skype to keep in touch with family, or somebody buying goods online for the first time, the sense of achievement and confidence they show is remarkable.
“This is a cross cutting issue and we need to work together across all organisations in all sectors. The economic potential of getting more people online is considerable. In an increasingly digital age we need to do everything we can so Wales can fully reach its digital potential, while ensuring people are not left behind. Simply put, I see this as a social necessity and an economic opportunity for all.”