Digitally excluded: The 90,000 Norfolk households not going online

Older people can lack the confidence to go online, according to Norfolk County Council research. Pic

Older people can lack the confidence to go online, according to Norfolk County Council research. Picture: Adrian Judd .

More than 90,000 homes in Norfolk have no or very limited access to the internet, either because of lack of connections, not being able to afford it or not having the confidence to use it.

Research has shown that almost a quarter of the county's homes are defined as 'digitally excluded'.

A similar study in London showed just 15pc of households there were unable or unlikely to use the internet.

The Norfolk County Council research showed homes where people were unlikely, or unable, to use the internet included 'significant' numbers of older people, families on low incomes and those living in social housing.

The report says there are a number of potential barriers to digital inclusion. Norfolk's lack of mobile and Broadband coverage is well-documented, but the research showed people are also not confident enough to use online services such as shopping and banking.

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National research suggests at least 75pc of people in Norfolk have what are referred to the five 'basic digital skills' – which refer to using technology and the internet to manage information, communicate, carry out transactions, problem solve and create content.

However, that means nearly one in four in the county cannot do at least one of these tasks.

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The county council has formed a new digital innovation and efficiency committee to look at the issue, with the council's libraries and community learning services offering a courses to give people the confidence to get online.

Plans are being made to offer more help, including running one to one sessions to help people familiarise themselves with their own devices.

Tom Garrod, chairman of the new committee, which will meet for the first time on Monday, said: 'Being able to access digital and online services is becoming crucial and we don't want anyone in Norfolk to be disadvantaged by not having the tools or confidence to make use of them.

'Between our Better Broadband for Norfolk programme and the digital learning opportunities we provide, we're making some great strides in improving digital inclusion and I'm keen for this committee to help identify any other areas where we can make a positive impact.'

Nationally, 94.8pc of the UK's population used the internet in 2016. By comparison, in Somalia it was 1.8pc and 11.3pc in Togo.

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