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Internet Access

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the internet access available to the economically disadvantaged. [130195]

We assess internet access through quarterly surveys produced by the Office for National Statistics. Access is tracked by income, age, gender and region. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (published in July) show that levels of internet access in the UK continue to grow. 54 per cent. of the adult population are now regular users of the internet.However the figures also show that take-up among economically disadvantaged groups is lower. 12 per cent. of households in the lowest income group have internet access compared to 86 per cent. in the highest income group.In May and June, to help drive up levels of internet among those less likely to be online the Office of the e-Envoy, supported by the Department for Education and Skills ran the Get Started campaign. The campaign promoted the benefits of the internet to key groups such as the unemployed, lone parents, those with disabilities and the elderly. People were encouraged to visit UK online centres throughout the country that offered free internet starter sessions. Evaluation of the campaign, particularly its impact on economically disadvantaged groups, will be completed shortly.