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£15m Online Skills programme opens for the 11 million digitally disconnected

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Basic Online Skills
Release date:
31 10 2013

An older lady using a computer

A £15 million Big Lottery Fund programme to improve the basic online skills of people across the UK who rarely or never use the internet is now open for applications.

There are 11 million people in the UK who currently lack the online skills to confidently make full use of digital tools available to them and 7.1 million people who have never been online. In addition, a third of young people not in education, employment or training rarely or never look for jobs online and 17 per cent would not apply for jobs that require basic computer skills.

Without access to the Internet, people are unable to get the best deals with energy suppliers, prices on goods and services, and important information on welfare benefits and employment rights. Those most in need of these services tend to be people on lower incomes from deprived areas. Isolated older people are also missing out on maintaining contact with friends and family, while younger people looking for work are also hampered if they lack the knowledge to fill-in online forms, or the basic skills required for certain jobs.

The Big Lottery Fund is today inviting national organisations to come forward to help tackle this ‘digital divide’ by significantly increasing the number of people regularly using computers and helping them learn how to communicate, search and share personal information safely and confidently.

Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Dawn Austwick said: “As more aspects of everyday life move online, it is vitally important that people have the basic skills to participate fully. The seven million people who have never used the Internet are at a huge disadvantage - enabling them to take advantage of its benefits is quite a challenge. By supporting the most effective approaches now, our Basic Online Skills investment will plug a skills gap and help change how people relate to the Internet. With our £15 million investment, we have the opportunity to dramatically increase the number of people participating online – whether they are isolated pensioners or jobless young people - and help to prevent a huge division in society before it takes root.”

The Fund is looking for national organisations or partnerships to explain how they could use between £5 million and £15 million to deliver face-to-face training and support across the UK. The funding programme is being developed with charity Go ON UK which aims to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.

Go ON UK Chief Executive Graham Walker said: “At Go ON UK we want everyone to be able to enjoy the many benefits of the internet, this means making sure as many people as possible have basic online skills. This is why we are delighted to be involved in the development of the Big Lottery Fund basic online skills programme and welcome this investment which has the potential to make a significant difference. Our ambition is to make the UK the most digitally skilled nation in the world, and it is through programmes like this that we can achieve this. One in five adults do not have basic online skills needed to benefit from the internet, and it’s high time that changed.”

To apply visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/uk-wide/digital-skills



Further information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Ask BIG a question here: https://ask.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Follow BIG on Twitter: @BigLotteryFund #BIGlf
Find BIG on facebook: www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFund


Notes to editors

• 7.1 million UK adults have never used a computer or the internet.
Office of National Stastics. Internet Access Quarterly Update, August 2013
• The number of people who are currently below the digital skills threshold in the UK is 11m.  Media Literacy – Basic Digital Skills. Ipsos Mori for the BBC, 2013.
• 35 per cent of young people not in education, employment or training ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ look for jobs online and 17 per cent would not apply for jobs that require basic computer skills. One in 10 young people say they do not feel confident filling in online job application forms and creating and updating their CVs on a computer.
Computer Literacy Survey for The Prince's Trust – Ipsos Mori

• The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 the Fund has awarded close to £6bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £30 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

• Go ON UK is a cross-sector charity which was established in 2012 to encourage and support people, business and charities to enjoy the benefits of being online. Go ON UK has eight chief executives around its boardroom table – Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk. Together, Go ON UK’s vision is to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.



  • Children
  • Families
  • Not in employment, education or training
  • Older people
  • People who have no or low incomes
  • Young people


  • Education, learning and skills
  • Children and young people