It will take more than public Internet access to help the remaining 20% of people in the UK who are not yet online get online a digital skills charity head has claimed.
Helen Milner is chief executive of the Tinder Foundation, a not-for-profit that claims to make “good things happen with digital technology.”
Speaking to Cable.co.uk, Milner said that while she supports the rollout of wi-fi hotspots, people should be able to access public services online from their own homes.
“We need to make sure there are public spaces for people to [to use the Internet],” the charity head claimed.
“The flipside is it’s important that local and central government and commercial providers realise that not everybody will be able to do everything they need to do in their lives on their mobile phone.
“So this idea that everything is going to be OK, because everybody has a smartphone and will be able to go to Starbucks and use wi-fi is a naïve view of what 20% of population can’t do now and what they need to do in their day-to-day lives,” she added.
Milner believes that the poorest 25% of people in society must be given support as public services move to online payments – she wants the risk of alienation to be limited.
“I think [100% digital services] is a good thing as long as there’s a plan and as long as that plan includes a methodology to provide support for people who either don’t have broadband access or have skills of confidence to do it for themselves,” she claimed.
“I think that telling people they have to do it online and then giving them no support is an absolute injustice,” she added.
The government is currently building a number of digital public services that it claims “will be so good, people prefer to use them.”
Whitehall has acknowledged that this strategy may risk excluding some UK citizens and launched its Digital Inclusion Strategy in April 2014.
It aims to reduce the number of people offline by 25% by next year with the help of the public, private and voluntary sectors.
However, many believe the government needs to do more if its digital services are to be truly successful, including Newcastle City Council which called upon the Government Digital Service (GDS) to rethink its attempts to boost digital inclusion.