1. ITV Report

Priced Out? Old and Offline - Tonight

From paying bills to finding out when your bins are collected so much of what we need to access is now online.

But we are facing a digital crisis with nearly a fifth of the population offline or lacking the basic digital skills. So who are the digitally excluded, and can getting connected improve your life and save you cash?

We live in an increasingly digital world and although most of us might be connected there are still over 11 million people in the UK who lack basic online skills. Reporter Jonathan Maitland investigates who are the digitally excluded and what’s the cost in Priced Out? Old and Offline

Lillian Hurley from Cheshire - one of the 4 Million over 65’s not online Credit: ITV / Tonight

“In ten years time, there will still be six point eight million people, who are left off line. And, those people who are left behind, are going to be people who are more socially excluded, people who are far away from the job market, isolated older people. So I think that we need to do much more to bridge that divide, and do it more quickly.”

– Helen Milner - Good Things Foundation

“Compared to many other nations, we've got higher levels of digital services. People tend to use everything from banking, to social services, to paying their taxes, etc, online. And there's whole issues there, not just about the skills, it's about affordability, and practicalities, that stop a lot of people, from engaging with their digital services.”

– Simeon Yates - Professor of Digital Culture University of Liverpool

The biggest group of non- internet users in the UK are the over 65’s - there’s 4 million of them who are not online - like 83 year old Lillian Hurley from Cheshire.

Lillian’s family are now scattered across the country and wanting to keep in touch more and share in their lives has made Lillian think now might be the time to get online. So Tonight arranged for Lillian to have some digital lessons with Ryan McMurdo who teaches the most digitally excluded across Stockport.

Ryan McMurdo and Lillian Hurley at the Startpoint Cafe Stockport Credit: ITV / Tonight

But it’s not just the over 65’s who are struggling online, nearly a fifth of the population are lacking basic digital skills - which is not great news when it’s predicted that 90% of jobs will require them over the next twenty years.

Up until the age of 47 single parent Carolyn Hill from Liverpool had happily spent her life offline, leaving the family computer to the kids.

Carolyn had worked as an office cleaner for many years but when she was unexpectedly made redundant she discovered that finding a job in a digital world was now very different.

With no digital skills she couldn’t apply for jobs and was getting nowhere, so after a few months she hesitantly signed up for some online lessons at Kensington Learning Centre and it wasn’t long before she got the job news she was after.

Carolyn has lessons at the Kensington Community Learning Centre to brush up on her computer skills. Credit: ITV / Tonight

“When you get your initial reply back to come for an interview .. and you know that you have actually forwarded that form to them with all your information on it .. and your CV it’s the best feeling in the world .. better than a phone call.”

– Carolyn

Of course it costs to connect to the internet. You need broadband and the equipment, and that often means that the poorest in society have the least access, which is a real problem when more and more services are moving online.

“If you want to book the repair on your council house, if you want to pay, get your universal credit application done, you've got to do it digitally. So, if you don't have access, you don't have the skills, it immediately just makes your life more complicated, and more difficult”.

– Simeon Yates - Professor of Digital Culture University of Liverpool

In Leeds they are planning to bridge the Digital Divide - The big plan has been coined 100% digital Leeds with the aim to reach the most disadvantaged and help them get connected.

“This is really important to us, because, we believe that by getting people digitally included, it significantly improves their lives and in particular their well being so just by way of example, from a health perspective for instance, within Leeds we’ve got a lot of people who are intensely lonely, if we can use technology to get people connected to other people or .. access to health services and the like we think it can make a massive difference in their lives."

– Dylan Roberts Leeds City Council

One of many projects to get the city connected is taking place at St George’s Crypt - a charity thats looks after the cities homeless and vulnerable, providing beds, meals and online training.

Here they provide online training to assist with housing searches, applying for benefits, job searches along with online college courses to gain qualifications in kitchen health and hygiene.

24 year old Stephen Shaw has been homeless on and off since he was sixteen and has been coming to the centre for the last year. He’s already gained the basic online skills to access his benefits and apply for housing and he’s part way through his online course in kitchen health and hygiene.

Credit: ITV / Tonight

“I set up a universal credit account and stuff like that for job seekers, looking for private rented houses, they are going to try to re-house me in next few weeks shouldn’t be long.”

– Stephen

Below is some information if your want some support with your online skills: