15 million people at risk of exclusion if Government, the voluntary sector and business rely on the internet.

Flowers held together with a basket weave of leaves

Penny’s latest flower arrangement

You’ll need to use multiple communication channels to be successful, whatever products or services you want to deliver.

According to the recent Good Things Foundation report (https://www.goodthingsfoundation.org/sites/default/files/research-publications/ofcom_report_v4_links.pdf), nearly 1 in 3 adults in the UK (29.2%, 15.2 million people) either don’t use the internet at all (7.8 million people) or have only limited use. (7.4 million people)

This means that all sorts of activities (shopping, banking, looking for energy deals, applying for jobs, getting information and much more) is not reaching nearly a third of the adult population if those activities rely on the internet.

Imagine running a business but excluding 30% of your customers – it might not last long!



  • Of the non-users, the majority are aged over 65 (some 5 million people but this still leaves 2.8 million adults of working age who are not using the internet.
  • Of the limited users, 62.7% are aged under 65 – some 4.6 million people.

So what?   If you are trying to target your products or services at working age people, want to collect tax from them or help them get back to work, relying on the internet is likely to miss about 7.4 million people.

Low income.

  • Most none users (62.3%) are in households with an annual income of under £17,500 – some 4.9 million people.
  • A Smaller proportion of limited users (41%)   are in households below this income level – some 3.1 million people.

So what?  If you are trying to target your services at disadvantaged people, provide tax or pension credits, other benefits, or provide social housing, relying on the internet is likely to miss about 8 million people in most need.

Disability and long-term health conditions. 

  • Nearly half (47%) of non-users have an impairment or long-term health issue – some 3.7 million people.
  • The proportion was the same (47%) of limited users – some 3.5 million people.

So what?  If you are trying to target your health,  care  or back-to-work services at disabled people, provide disability-specific benefits and support , , relying on the internet is likely to miss  about 7.2 million people already facing the most life challenges.

Social class and leaving school early were also other significant factors – and each brings their own additional difficulties.

What’s the message?

We all know about the legal duties concerning disabled people: accessible websites and information, alternate formats etc.      But good communications with the public still needs to use the full range of classic media – from newspapers and radio to TV and leaflets – if large parts of the population aren’t missed out.   The internet may be relatively easy and cheap but still doesn’t reach everyone and this data proves it.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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