Digital inclusion plays a crucial role in enhancing individuals’ ability to achieve and maintain financial resilience. It allows people to access a wide range of financial services online, including banking and budgeting tools, as well as finding information about benefits, better value deals on goods and services, debt management, and online education and employment opportunities, potentially leading to higher incomes and greater financial resilience over time.
In turn, this generates benefits to the local economy in line with the Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy, where poverty and inequality are tackled, and economic growth is created that works for everyone.
100% Digital Leeds recognises the link between digital exclusion and poverty, and how this issue has become exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. The latest figures show that in Leeds:
- 178,630 people are living in poverty.
- 14,400 people of working age are unemployed.
- 72,701 people are claiming Universal Credit.
- 55,274 households are in fuel poverty.
- 59,117 households have accessed a foodbank by referral in 2022/23.
While this does not mean for certain that these people are digitally excluded, the figures are reliable indicators that suggest that these people are at higher risk of being digitally excluded, and less financially resilient.
100% Digital Leeds works with partners across the third sector and council to bridge this digital divide and promote digital inclusion initiatives with a view to building a more financially resilient and inclusive city.
We know that there are barriers such as a lack of sustained access to devices and the internet as well as people lacking digital skills, which is why we are working with organisations to overcome these barriers by supporting the setting up of device and data gifting schemes, and skills training and support.
“My gifted smartphone has been brilliant for a number of reasons. My daughter doesn’t live with me, and I’ve been able to get in touch with her a lot more often. I do not have a television and I’ve now been able to use my smartphone for listening to music and accessing YouTube and social media. I felt isolated before, but I can finally engage in the world that everybody else seems to be in. I am a lot less lonely now, my flat isn’t silent anymore.
I’ve also been using my phone for bidding on Leeds Homes properties and filling out my Universal Credit journal from home, so I don’t have to wait for my Support worker, and I can keep track of my appointments, so it’s made things a lot easier for me.
I’ve started budgeting my money using an app and I’ve started using online banking, I find it a lot easier to keep track of my money now.”Beneficiary, Community Calling scheme