Scotland’s digital divide exposed as 370,000 people lack internet access during pandemic

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Almost 370,000 people had no internet access last year in Scotland after running out of money before payday, showing the extent of financial insecurity across the country.

A YouGov poll for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) found that 32 percent of people ran out of money before payday in the past year.

Of these people, 26% had to do without Internet access.

Based on the Scottish population, estimates show that around 369,200 people will have been affected.

An additional 28% did not have access to a mobile phone, or 397,600.

Research defines “payday” as including the day of payment of pensions and benefits.

The CAS called the results “concerning,” given that the last year saw increased internet addiction during the pandemic.

The charity further stressed that more choices are needed to access public services that are often digital by default, such as applying for universal credit.

CAS Strong Communities spokesperson Gillian Fyfe said: “For many of us, the final year of the pandemic was when it became clear that the internet and phone access are essential services. for the people.

“Whether it’s through online meetings for work or zoom quizzes with friends, we’ve relied on internet access more than ever in the past year.

“This is why it is so worrying to see such a high proportion of people who have had to do without online access or using a mobile phone in the past year because they no longer had silver.

“It’s even more concerning when you consider the digital-first or digital-by-default nature of public services and the welfare state.

“It may be that those who need digital access the most are the ones most likely to have run out of money and therefore do without it.”

READ MORE: Scotland is home to some of the UK’s worst digital connectivity areas

The charity called the situation with the end of holidays, cuts to universal credit and rising energy bills a “perfect storm” for people.

Official figures show that the increase in the cost of living, as measured by the consumer price index, reached 3.2% in August. This is the biggest price increase since the record began in 1997.

CAS is now launching a “Our Advice Adds Up” campaign, a campaign encouraging people to seek advice.

They also encourage people to check if they can get cheaper rates from broadband providers, as some providers offer social rates.

READ MORE: Scottish religious leaders unite to demand stop ‘body blow’ of poverty

Gillian added, “We encourage people to see if they can access a cheaper or more affordable contract. Some providers offer social tariffs to low-income people and we would like to see more providers, including mobile providers, offering these contracts.

“Ultimately, however, for a lot of people, the problem is the lack of income in the first place.

“People can get advice from their local CAB or our online advice site, and also check out www.moneymap.scot which brings together people’s online options to increase their income and lower their bills. ”



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