September 19, 2012

Simple Things, Done Well: Making practical progress on digital engagement and inclusion

Simple Things, Done Well supports the greater use of the internet to deliver more personalised, cheaper and speedier public services but says that the government must pay special attention to older people who often prefer face-to-face contact when carrying out activities such as paying bills, grocery shopping or banking.

Four out of ten people aged 65 or over do not have access to the internet at home, with 5.4 million having never used the internet. Only 5% of those aged 65 or above own a smartphone compared to nearly three quarters of 16-24 year olds.

The report recommends setting up a UK wide network of ‘silver sidekicks’ – older, tech savvy people who would be paid to go into peoples’ homes and community centres to teach them how to use the internet to make digital transactions such as renewing a driving licence or paying a utility bill.

The report estimates that the creation of 1,000 paid roles would be sufficient to reach up to 4.5million people not on the internet over five years. If just one in ten of this group can be persuaded to go online, the net savings for government from cheaper transactions could be worth up to £120million in the same time period.


Sarah Fink

Digital Government Research Fellow, 2012-14

Join our mailing list