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Glasgow suffering from digital divide

The digital divide in Glasgow risks worsening social inequality, a new report from the Carnegie UK Trust warns. Broadband uptake in this city is one of the lowest in the country, with just 60% of all residents and 47% of skilled manual workers online at home, compared to the UK average of 72%.

The Carnegie UK Trust is calling for greater collaboration between the public, private and third sectors to tackle this divide.

The report recommends: a new Digital Participation Fund; a city-wide brand for initiatives to tackle digital exclusion; highly specific solutions to tackle various barriers to uptake; the Digital Participation Glasgow group to overcome digital exclusion and include private, voluntary and public sector providers in its membership; and a mapping exercise of current offerings.

Of those not currently online in Glasgow, 57% expressed a wish to do so. Some of the major barriers to greater uptake include cost, and comfort, with many preferring to use the phone or talk face-to-face. Women were found to be more keen to get online, with 65% of those not currently accessing the internet interested in doing so, with only 48% of men and 29% of over-65s.

Douglas White, senior policy officer for The Carnegie UK Trust, said: “The root causes of the very low uptake of broadband in Glasgow have never been fully researched before.

“There are many issues within different age groups. This is not simply a case of older generations being seen as ‘luddites’. The Pay TV issue for example, is a fallacy, very few (13%) of non-internet users had any form of subscription TV.

“We hope that this research will help to inform the many existing efforts to solve Glasgow’s digital exclusion problem. The disadvantages, both social and financial, of not being online are clear, and our hope is that this report will bring together those organisations with a vested interest in getting Glaswegians online in order to work on a solution based on our findings.”

Cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs Fiona Hyslop added: “I welcome this research, which provides valuable insight into Glasgow’s digital divide, and the Scottish Government will carefully consider this report’s constructive recommendations. We are already taking action to reduce digital exclusion in Scotland – and Glasgow in particular – as part of our Digital Strategy and we will continue working with a range of partners in the public and private sector to get more people online.”

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