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Broadcasting: Digitalisation

Volume 704: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales (Paul Murphy) has made the following Written Statement.

On Friday 24 October I published Delivering Digital Inclusion: An Action Plan for Consultation, with proposals for achieving greater digital inclusion.

Inequality in the use and application of digital technologies is a new driver of social exclusion in the 21st century and carries an immediate and urgent risk of accelerating existing social divides and creating new ones.

The opportunities provided by digital technologies are not enjoyed by all—for example, 17 million people in the UK still do not use computers and the internet and there is a strong correlation between digital and social exclusion; and

there are also significant opportunities to use technology better indirectly to support better service delivery through, for example, the equipping of frontline staff or better service planning.

With the Cabinet Committee for Digital Inclusion, and a cross-government digital inclusion team in place, we now have effective governance to drive forward further action. The Government are currently taking forward more than 70 actions across the public sector, detailed in the annex to this document, and outside of government much excellent work to tackle digital inclusion is taking place, but we now need to extend its reach and impact.

We are consulting on both the analysis we have set out in this document and the proposed actions. Of particular note is the introduction of a charter for digital inclusion and an expert taskforce which would inform the work of a new digital inclusion champion, who will take on the role of championing the digital inclusion needs of the most disadvantaged citizens and communities.

The role and responsibilities of the champion, and the objectives of the digital inclusion charter, will form part of the consultation so that the views of stakeholders can be taken into account.

We invite all those with an interest in digital inclusion to take part in this consultation and to play a role in influencing the future direction of change.

The consultation, which closes on 19 January 2009, can be accessed via the Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk/consultations.

A copy of Delivering Digital Inclusion: An Action Plan for Consultation and the annex to the plan have been deposited in the Library of the House.