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New taskforce to help Londoners close digital divide

Sadiq Khan and London Councils have launched a new taskforce to tackle digital exclusion in the capital and source new and upcycled electronic devices for adults and children in need.

One of the objectives of the new taskforce is to comprehensively map out the need for devices and reliable connectivity across London.

It will also play a key role in helping allocate significant investment in digital infrastructure – to help connect areas of London currently struggling with poor connectivity – and helping Londoners gain important digital skills.

This supports the work of the London Recovery Programme, whose nine missions include ensuring every Londoner has access to good connectivity, basic digital skills and the device or support they need to be online by 2025.

Research by the Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp shows only 10% of schools across the country reported all their pupils having a laptop – only a marginal increase from last March.

Meanwhile, Ofcom estimates between 1.14m and 1.78m children around the country lack access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home – and more than 880,000 live in a household with only a mobile internet connection.

‘Every school child in London should have the equipment they need to continue learning online during lockdown,’ said the London mayor.

‘But it’s the sad reality that there are still many who will struggle with this because they or their families don’t have the equipment they need, and so face having their schooling disrupted.’

The chair of London Councils, Cllr Georgia Gould added: ‘It’s particularly worrying that children are at risk of falling behind at school during the pandemic because they do not have the right equipment at home. A London Councils survey showed that more than 79,000 devices are still needed to enable all of London’s children to access remote learning.

‘That is why I am proud that working with the mayor and boroughs around London we have made digital access one of the core missions for London’s recovery. Creating a better future for our city means ensuring that everyone has the benefit of digital connectivity and I am excited to work with boroughs, businesses and citizens to ensure all Londoners are connected.’

Photo Credit – Free-Photos (Pixabay)

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