Growing Number of Britons Online

More than 8.4 million Britons have never used the web, or 16.8% of the British population. A survey by the Office of National Statistics shows that more people are getting online, with the number of adults falling by almost 300,000 in the last quarter.  The recent figures compare substantially to the figure of a fall of 12,000 in the previous quarter.

The figures echo Google CEO, Eric Schmidt’s belief over the summer that the UK is lagging behind in technology and a national campaign has been set up to get more British people online.  The Race Online 2012 campaign is a strong response to Schmidt’s comments and is hoping to inspire thousands of local digital champions.  Getting online is becoming more and more essential to daily life, particularly with nine out of ten new jobs now requiring online applications.  It has been found that internet users are able to command around ten per cent higher salaries than non-users.

When analysing the statistics, the largest age group online is those aged 16-24, with 98.6% of them using the internet.  But the greatest fall of non-users was amongst those aged 75 and over, numbering 164,000 and yet they are the slowest age group with 72.4% still to get online.

It wouldn’t be surprising that the younger ages are fastest and are of a greater number online and the older ages are longer on the take up.  What is most interesting is the number of adults between 25 and 74 because more than half of adults not online are disabled.  36.3% of disabled adults have not used the internet compared to 10.8% of abled adults.

Research by Ofcom and the BBC show that many still doubt the benefits and have an ‘initial lack of confidence in taking their first steps online’ and further suggested that families and friends play a key role for nearly all recent adopters of the web.  It is on this basis that the Give an Hour campaign, led by digital champion Martha Lane Fox, is encouraging 30 million daily users in the UK to help their friends and families get online.

“A growing gap exists between those who are online and those who are not, as the internet becomes more of an essential utility for consumers,” said Jonathan Stearn of Consumer Focus.

“The Government must provide even more targeted support to those who lose out the most. That means tackling real barriers over cost, access, security fears, and computer skills.”

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