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Digital Skills: Elderly in Rural Areas

Volume 658: debated on Thursday 11 April 2019

Some 75% of those in this country with no digital skills are aged 65 or above. My Department has launched the digital inclusion innovation fund, which is designed to tackle digital exclusion, particularly among older people and people with disabilities. The Government are tackling digital exclusion by giving people the skills they need through the future digital inclusion programme. To date, the programme has supported 1 million adults to develop their basic digital skills.

In order for elderly people in rural areas to learn digital skills, they must first be able to access the internet. Will my hon. Friend confirm what progress is being made in getting all rural areas connected to the internet?

I can certainly reassure my hon. Friend on that. We have spent almost £2 billion on bringing superfast broadband to 96%-plus of UK premises and are continuing to deliver in rural and remote parts of the UK. We have just launched the £200 million rural gigabit connectivity programme to ensure that no areas are left behind when it comes to the roll-out of gigabit speeds, which will be of particular value to older people in Wales and other rural parts of the country.

13. In December, Ofcom recommended that 40% of video-on-demand content should be provided with subtitles within two years and 80% within four years. Will the Minister say whether she is prepared to introduce secondary legislation to ensure that that is done within a decent timeframe? (910369)

The hon. Lady is quite right: on-demand programme services need to catch up. The Ofcom proposals were made at the end of last year and are receiving consideration by my Department. In the meantime, best practice guidance has been introduced. It is voluntary at the moment, but for example Netflix has made 100% of its content available with subtitles.