Birmingham Council announces new digital inclusion team

A new digital inclusion team at Birmingham City Council aims to ensure the city’s most vulnerable and excluded citizens can have better access to online services.

The Council has brought together 40 different organisations to ensure people have access to equipment, network connectivity and skills for improving their quality of life, developing their careers and saving money.

The move is one of the recommendations made in a report to cabinet setting out a city-wide digital inclusion strategy.

The digital strategy aims to ensure that every citizen has access to an internet enabled device, ideally within their own household, and that there are city-wide, locality-based and online educational sessions providing tuition to enable people to develop digital skills.

It also aims to remove barriers for those that are most vulnerable or excluded through targeted intervention and signposting, create simple digital solutions to enable citizens to access council services through their device of choice at a time of their choosing, minimise digital and data poverty, and work with employers to highlight the importance of digital skills and inclusion.

person using MacBook Pro

Cllr Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: ‘Digital inclusion isn’t just about getting the latest smartphone. It is about ensuring people are connected and citizens, especially the most vulnerable, have access to online services.

‘There was already a digital divide before the pandemic hit, but Covid-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities, meaning those who were already disadvantaged have become even more excluded. Digital exclusion speaks to some of the most profound inequalities in our society and now is the time to take collective action as a city to tackle the challenge.

‘To tackle this we must work as a city – public, private, and voluntary sectors to ensure everyone has the confidence, capacity and skills to access online information and live their lives to their full potential. While the strategy will help more people gain the benefits of digital inclusion, we do recognise that not every citizen will have a preference for digital. As part of our customer service strategy, we will continue to support citizens to access services using alternative channels until they are ready to adopt digital opportunities.’

In related news, a new £25m investment will help businesses in Scotland utilise digital technologies and enhance workforce skills, with the aim of supporting economic recovery.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters


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