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David Cameron Supports Digital Champion’s Ambition – Make UK First Nation Where Everyone Can Use the Web

July 12, 2010

• 10 million Britons – the combined population of our five largest cities –have never used the internet.

• Manifesto calls for urgent action to get millions more online by the end of 2012 with key roles for government, industry and charities.

• Ambition to get everyone of working age online by the end of this Parliament, so that everyone who then retires will have skills to enjoy benefits of the web.

The UK’s Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, today launches her manifesto for a ‘Networked Nation’ at Number 10 Downing Street. The manifesto, a bold statement for fairness and social justice, sets out plans to inspire, encourage and support everyone in the UK to enjoy the benefits of the web.

The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister said: “I’m delighted to have Martha Lane Fox on board to help drive forward this important agenda. In the internet age, we need to ensure that people aren’t being left behind as more and more services and business move online. But this issue isn’t just about fairness – as Martha’s work shows, promoting digital inclusion is essential for a dynamic modern economy and can help to make government more efficient and effective.”

The UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox, said:

“Networked Nation is a rallying cry for the 40 million internet users in the UK to help 10 million people who have yet to enjoy the huge benefits of the web that the vast majority of us enjoy every day.

By getting more people online, everyone wins. Businesses are competing for more online customers.

Government needs to deliver better for less. Charities want to support the people they serve better. So we are calling on them to work together and tackle the unfairness and lost opportunities caused by digital exclusion, and deliver positive social change.”

The manifesto shows that one fifth of the population in the UK, 10 million people, are missing out on consumer savings, access to vital information and educational success.

As industry, the media and increasingly government, expand ever faster into digital-only services, the manifesto identifies the need for urgent action to stop some sections of society being left offline and excluded from many aspects of everyday life in the UK.

Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State, Department of Work & Pensions said: “Digital literacy is a great enabler of social mobility. It is a way for those who have had bad experiences of institutions to re-engage in learning, and it can break down feelings of social isolation. It is a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty.”

Delivering benefits of the web for everyone:

Our ‘Manifesto for a Networked Nation’ sets out detailed plans for government, industry and charities to help everyone get online, including four million of the most disadvantaged; the unemployed, over 65s and adults in families with children reap the benefit of being web enabled. Research detailed in the manifesto identifies important social benefits for these groups:

• The web empowers the unemployed: more than 90% of all new jobs require basic internet skills, and 7m job adverts were posted online last year but 900,000 workless people do not currently use the internet.

• The web can prevent the social isolation of older people: half of internet users say the web increases contact with friends & family who live far away, but 3.1 million people in the UK over the age of 65 see a friend, neighbour or family member less than once a week and 1.8 million have contact less than once a month.

• The web improves educational performance: children who are online at home can achieve a two-grade improvement in a subject at GCSE.

People and organisations in every sector and in every corner of our country are being urged to work together to inspire, encourage and support millions of new people to get online by the end of the Olympic year, by,

Inspiring change:

• Government should “think internet first” in designing services and provide support for those who need help using its online services.

• Industry partners should develop specific strategies to communicate the positive benefits of the internet to the 10 million potential new online customers.

• Charitable funders should review their funding guidance to ensure that it supports capital investment in IT infrastructure by small charities so that they can inspire the vulnerable groups that they serve to get online.

Encouraging a web nation:

• DWP is already working towards an expectation that people of working age should apply for benefits online and have the skills to look for, and apply for, work online so that everyone who then retires will have skills to enjoy benefits of the web.

• Industry should take the lead in developing a national equipment recycling programme so that the best lifetime use is made of the 12 million devices shipped into the UK every year.

• We will tap into the incredible work that local charities do so that they can help us get to some of the people who would otherwise be too difficult to reach.

Support locally to get people connected:

• Organisations in every sector should encourage their employees to be local digital champions to identify people needing help, find and map support available locally from organisations in all sectors, and signpost people to it.

• Central and local government should ensure that there are local digital champions in all local authorities, all 750 jobcentre plus offices and all public libraries by the end of the year. For example Museums Libraries and Archives (MLA) has committed to getting half a million more people online.

• Device and connectivity retailers should provide tailored internet access packages for people on low incomes and the elderly, with low up-front costs, affordable monthly payments, and ongoing support.

• Charities should expect reasonable access to publicly funded facilities with ICT equipment in any area where web access and or training facilities are inadequate.


The UK’s Digital Champion is asking organisations of any size to get involved to ensure everyone can use the web. It’s simple to sign up and only takes a few minutes to register and make a digital promise at

30 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2010 7:50 am

    Thank you for the article and thank everyone for submitting their comments because it

    provided additional clarification for me. This information has been extremely helpful



  2. August 2, 2010 4:52 pm

    I’ve been all over the internet the last few days digesting every piece of information I can get. Sorry my english, but this is great site and nice text , I will add to my bookmarks. Thank you.

  3. July 22, 2010 10:19 am

    Good mornig I am totally supportive of the digital age. To that end if you are searcxhing forwork of jobs throughtout the UK please have a look at and find the best city for you.

  4. July 20, 2010 9:51 am

    Having access to the internet can be a life line for a 24 hour carer who sometimes cannot afford to purchase a computer.
    It enables them to make friends and find information to help them in their caring role.
    For the past two years we have campaigned for computers for carers and we have sent out getting on for around 100 to carers across the UK, free computers and laptops.
    During carersweek this year, we opened our new website. to try and obtain more laptops.
    Please remember carers when you change your laptop, you can contact us on the website and you could change a carer’s life.

    with all best wishes

    • July 20, 2010 10:37 am

      Hi Wendy,

      This is a great initiative and we wish you continued success.

      We have previously featured an article on how the internet can support carers and “open up a whole new world” for them. You can read the article here

      • August 3, 2010 7:26 pm

        Was invited to give a speech at one of our local Rotary groups to let them know how important it is for carers to have access to the internet.
        A lifeline to many.

  5. July 16, 2010 7:16 pm

    Hi i’m an individual not a company or business who has
    an idea about getting people trained and educated in
    all things digital. My question is this ; do I approach
    RaceOnline2012 with my idea and we work together or are
    you looking for people to come to you with completed
    projects ? I’m just wondering about my next step .



    • July 20, 2010 10:32 am

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for getting in touch. While Race Online 2012 is primarily a B2B campaign, we need support from everyone in the UK in order to achieve our goal of bringing the beneifts of the internet to the 10 million people who are currently offline.

      Our core aim is to raise awareness and challenge organasations and people from the commercial, charity and goverment sectors to take action. Unfortunately, we are a small team and generally do not have the resources to be able to work with our partners and supporters at an individual level.

      We are however always pleased to hear about the initiatives people are undertaking and are happy to shine a light on their progress and successes. Please let us know your idea and the details of the initiative you refer to by emailing us:

      Please also join us as an advocate ( ), we will keep you updated on our progress and send you suggestions on what can be done to help.


      The Race Online 2012 Team

  6. July 14, 2010 1:24 pm

    On the subject of being socially and economically disenfranchised, here’s part of what was presented to the US President in 1996.

    “We are at the very beginning of a new type of society and civilization, the Information Age. Historically, this is only the third distinct age of civilization. We lived in an agricultural age for thousands of years, which gave way to the Industrial Revolution and Industrial Age during the last three hundred years. The Industrial Age is now giving way to the Information Revolution, which is giving rise to the Information Age. Understanding this, it is appropriate to be concerned with the impact this transition is having and will continue to have on the lives of all of us. In that it is a fundamental predicate of “people-centered” economic development that no person is disposable, it follows that close attention be paid to those in the waning Industrial Age who are not equipped and prepared to take active and productive roles in an Information Age. Many, in fact, are scared, angry, and deeply resentful that they are being left out, ignored, effectively disenfranchised, discarded, thrown away as human flotsam in the name of human and social progress. We have only to ask ourselves individually whether or not this is the sort of progress we want, where we accept consciously and intentionally that human progress allows for disposing of other human beings.”

  7. July 13, 2010 10:59 am

    Divisions in society, be they financial, educational and now digital, are, by definition, devisive and damaging to all. We are all different and the ‘one size fits all’ policy does not recognise or exploit this to our advantage as an individual or as a nation.
    The benefits of online communication and transactions are understood BUT there are issues which inhibit use:
    ‘This is how computers work – you must do it like this!’
    NO! When I walk down the high street and see something I like I enter the shop, have a look around, ask questions, maybe haggle a bit, take out my wallet, pay and walk out of the shop with the goods. Nobody asks me for my name, address, telephone number, date of birth and I don’t sign a 20 page Terms & Conditions document.
    If the service was good and the product fine then I will go back to that shop and a relationship begins to evolve, they may know my name as a regular customer, I may pay by cheque or credit card and ask them to deliver, thereby providing them more personal information. We build a ‘trusted relationship’ to our mutual benefit and, should that trust be abused, we discontinue it.
    Online however, it is difficult to check the veracity of the supplier, we are asked to provide personal and often irrelevant information, we have to click on their EULA agreeing to Terms & Conditions such as ‘we have the right to share your personal information’ without understanding them, we have no assurance that our data, in compliance with the Data Protection Act (not US laws), will be protected or encrypted.
    We give away our privacy with the result that, at best we are inundated with SPAM (85% of internet traffic) or, at worst, we suffer financial or reputational loss.
    TRM (Trusted Relationship Management) provides a 2-way ‘conversation’ between individual and supplier with relevant personal information ‘shared’ under the individuals’ Terms & Conditions – under my control, with my consent, for my benefit – just like the high street.
    It is critical for society, business and government that enable ‘trusted relationships’ online for reasons of convenience, cost reduction, legal compliance, and environmental issues.
    The technology exists (PAOGA can demonstrate it) and this government can lead (the world) by example.
    TRM provides benefits for me as a citizen, a patient, a student, a consumer, an employee, a parent, a carer and, as such, I am your greatest asset – show some respect, trust me!

    • Henry Cox permalink
      July 14, 2010 12:40 am

      If the Government are to be taken seriously about social inclusion in this digital age, they seriously need to address the digital security issue, and give individuals BACK the public and private information rights they they have had taken by data collators/collectors/databases
      Unless the Government actively support and promote OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE AND OPERATING SYSTEMS, they are de facto supporting totalitarianism, or what used to be called Fascism, which can only be divisive of any notion of equal opportunity
      Everyone can see it coming – what are you going to do to turn it around, & to inspire confidence in ANY form of Government being worth supporting??
      There is much mis-information being promoted as being ‘Open’, but the eyes of intelligent people are watching……
      Spam and DRM/Copyright controls may be short term good business but long term global suicide

      …….and make the whole of the Internet FREE and OPEN, like free speech

      Try it!


    • July 14, 2010 5:29 pm

      Graham, Thanks for writing.

      We’re with you: the 30million of us in the UK who use the web daily each had our own reasons why we first got online, and the 10million adults who haven’t seen a reason to do so yet will all have their own reasons for joining the Information Age.

      It’s for this reason that we haven’t set out to build a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy, and have instead put much of our energy into launching a partnership programme. Since launch in Easter, we’ve signed up 508 partners to help inspire, encourage and reward people to join the web. Partners range from tiny community centres on estates to big blue-chip companies like McDonalds. We will continue to work closely with the Department of Work & Pensions because it is probably the single organization in the UK that has the most contact with the largest number of the offline population: so it can play an important role in shifting behaviour and attitudes towards the net.

      Thanks for your comments on data. The last Government commissioned a review into data sharing from Thomas Walport, which might interest you.

      With our team’s very limited resources we will continue to focus our energies ruthlessly on encouraging more activity on bringing people online. It’s this urgent social, moral and economic need to bring more people, and especially society’s least advantaged groups,online that gets us out of bed in the morning.

    • Liath permalink
      September 4, 2010 10:11 pm

      On Data-mugging, I don’t know what you are on about. Pity to spoil a possibly good plug for TRM with hysterical postings. Anyone I know who is inundated with spam didn’t receive it from a supermarket or bank. Those businesses are only keeping track of their sales. They got the spam & viruses from dodgy amateur websites or adult ones – alleging to represent other businesses. Sigh. I’ve fixed enough PCs to see that happening. At least think before you click.

      Yes, a corner grocer or small local restaurant might know if it’s worth getting a swipe-card machine, or staying with cash & cheques. But most of us don’t use small local businesses. Whatever your opinion, whatever our reasons we don’t, and a busy place can’t keep track of their customer preferences otherwise. They aren’t mind-readers. No one is.

      Anyone who posts in all caps to say “trust me, show me respect” has been reading dodgy websites if you ask me. It does terrible things to your writing style, and your online credibility.

      On the real topic, Age Action completely supports internet access, it does reduce social isolation. Having taught retired people how to use a PC, it is amazing how much they go on to do online, shared interests lead to real-life get-togethers, and the jargon others use suddenly makes sense. I know a woman of 85 who taught her too-busy-to-take-an-evening-off grandson how to use predictive text! Retired people have time to enjoy the web and the how-to videos aren’t just watched, they use them to learn new skills and share them with others. Many live far from a (defunct) bus route. This way they aren’t the only one in the village who’s ever had X happen to them, who wants to organise a class reunion, who has to have a club newsletter posted to them. They save money, they contribute online, and stay mentally active.
      They are us in a few decades. Wonder what new skills we’ll need? Who’ll teach us?

  8. July 12, 2010 11:43 pm

    Entirely agree with what the campaign stands for. The digital divide is a huge issue for our society and the wider the digital divide the more people in our society will become socially, economically and politically disenfranchised, particularly in Northern Ireland where we’ve always been at the bottom of the UK regional table for connectivity. There is a huge opportunity here for us all to work together to make a difference, so let’s hope that this doesn’t become another hyped up idea from the Coalition. It really is much more important than that, and way beyond any party politicing. A few days ago we heard Nick Clegg bang on about ‘Your Freedom’. At the time, The Guardian’s Simon Jeffery in his excellent blog said: “The tricky thing with online consultation is the listening – not just whether you do, but who you are listening to. In a different context, Charlie Beckett, director of the Polis centre at the LSE, some months ago said about political crowdsourcing and e-democracy:

    “I’m a big e-democracy person, I’d argue for it all round but you have to be careful about what are the algorithms of democracy. How do you weight people? Who is more important? 20,000 metrosexuals who rush onto Twitter to complain about something? How do you weight what they said against people who aren’t so technologically literate. How do you give them an equal voice? When you have a ballot box you have all got the same vote, but when you have e-democracy the articulate become even more empowered”.

    So what sort of power do you have if you aren’t even online!

    Let’s get behind this campaign and give more power to more people!!

    • July 14, 2010 5:31 pm

      Plans to let citizens make online suggestions for cuts in the forthcoming Government Spending Review underscores exactly how far we’ve come in embracing technology – Web skills are now vital not just to access education, information and jobs, but increasingly in order to take part in our modern democracy.

      Those who live in disadvantaged communities are likely to be disproportionately impacted by cuts, and these areas also have the highest concentrations of offline populations. This is one of the reasons why we think we should all be in a hurry to get every one of working age able to access the web so that their voices can be heard in this important national conversation.

      Thanks for your support.

  9. Catherine Haynes permalink
    July 12, 2010 5:04 pm

    Great idea and power to it BUT.. why doesn’t your suggestion page work? Too much traffic?

    Believe it when I’ m able to use it.

    • July 14, 2010 9:29 am

      Hi Catherine,

      Apologies that you have had problems using our website. Can you let us know the page you have been experiencing difficulty with so that we can rectify any problems.


      The Race Online 2012 Team

  10. cyberdoyle permalink
    July 12, 2010 4:33 pm

    agree with the comments above. currently 3 million homes by bt’s own admission are in the final third, and in those areas live millions of people who would love an internet connection. If the government removes the valuation office tax of £600 a year per km of lit fibre it would stimulate private and community investment. BT don’t have to pay that charge. A council owned infrastructure could set its own level of taxation. If the incumbent says an area is too expensive to service then the existing ducts, poles and wayleaves should be compulsory purchased and let someone else do it.
    Openreach are throttling this country and need some competition. The dinosaurs in government who can’t even turn a computer on to get emails need to wake up to what is needed and Do IT.

    • July 14, 2010 5:32 pm

      We support the Government’s commitment that everyone should have 2Mb/s at a minimum: but it’s not within our remit or our power to solve rural broadband issues: we’re trying to do all we can with the resources we have: 40m highly sophisticated web users, thousands of community-access points and lots of partners who are willing to help in a host of ways.

      Thank you.

  11. July 12, 2010 3:27 pm

    * The web improves educational performance: children who are online at home can achieve a two-grade improvement in a subject at GCSE.

    Really? Any proof of this wooly statistic? Unless of course you refer to children who are online at home getting on average 2 grades higher at GCSE than those who aren’t – which may actually be down to socio-economic factors, such as middle class parents investing more in their children’s education compared to those around the poverty line. It would be just as accurate to say “Children who’s parents drive a Volvo can achieve a 2 grade improvement in a subject at GCSE”. The statement is just as meaningless.

    *The web can prevent the social isolation of older people: half of internet users say the web increases contact with friends & family who live far away, but 3.1 million people in the UK over the age of 65 see a friend, neighbour or family member less than once a week and 1.8 million have contact less than once a month.

    Another woolly statement. My parents are online, I communicate with them via email or instant messaging perhaps once a year. I use such 20th century technology as the telephone to keep in touch, even from “far away”. If people over 65 see a neighbour less than once a week, then their problem is not the lack of the internet.
    *The web empowers the unemployed: more than 90% of all new jobs require basic internet skills, and 7m job adverts were posted online last year but 900,000 workless people do not currently use the internet

    Again, where is the proof of this? Looking at my local jobs website, I can’t see any mention of “basic internet skills” being a factor in any of the jobs on offer. Plenty for “computer literacy”, but not 90%, and this is not the same thing as literacy with the internet.
    People can access the internet in libraries, even in rural areas. Library membership is free to all, so there is no barrier here.

    There are wider problems with this “Networked Nation” too. I have very fast broadband at home (50Mbs, cable) however my partner living just 12 miles away is limited to using 256kbs ADSL due to her rural location. Unless there is investment from the government to provide fibre (not just copper) to every home in the country – just as there originally was for water & power – then this will never improve simply because the costs are too great for industry. The irony is that I use my connection for less than an hour a day at most while she uses hers constantly as she works from home. All of the statistics in the world about cheap broadband or fastest broadband in the EU are ridiculous to us and many potential users in rural areas. Removing the dependency on the telephone line (a hidden cost of broadband – the £10 tax to BT) would also allow people to save money.

    I also query the “people can save money using the internet” statement. While it is true you can switch your electricity supplier on the internet, you can also do this by telephone and it is arguably simpler to do so as you have someone at the other end to talk you through it. The ease with which online gambling sites can extract money from unsuspecting internet users also would cast doubt on your claims. Shopping for groceries online is more expensive thanks to delivery charges. Parcel companies do not deliver at weekends generally.

    It is an admirable effort, but sadly smacks too much of an insular rose tinted view of the world which is often the result of living in a city where high speed internet access is taken for granted.

    • July 14, 2010 5:33 pm


      The evidence for how big an impact home access can have on grade improvement comes from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2009. That children go onto become more confident users of technology and better independent learners overall as a result is drawn from analysis done by NFER, 2009, Somekh et al 2005 and Passey et al.

      For information on how important technology can be for our ageing population please read Independent Age’s recent report, Older people, technology and community. RE jobs, the research comes from E-Skills UK
      Consumer savings evidence base: please see our earlier report, The Economic Case for Digital Inclusion.

      We support the Government’s commitment that everyone should have 2Mb/s at a minimum: but it’s not within our remit or our power to solve rural broadband issues: we’re trying to do all we can with the resources we have: 40m highly sophisticated web users, thousands of community-access points and lots of partners who are willing to help in a host of ways.

      Thank you.

  12. cato theory permalink
    July 12, 2010 3:17 pm

    I do not own a computer and rely on friends and family:which is annoying if you want to check something out instantly.I also have use of a pc at my local library,BUT,the connection speed is back in the 80’s.Which is just as annoying when you have an hours access,BUT,spend half that time having to re-connect every five minutes.Please……….allocate some money to local libraries,to bring them up to date. It’s fine to have access through libraries,but worthless if speed is frustratingly slow.

    • July 14, 2010 5:37 pm

      Yes – libraries are key in providing community access.

      Ed Vaizey as minister for culture communications and creative industries at DCMS gave a speech about the role they play in supporting people online earlier this month. In it he said: there are ‘762 hours of internet access available across all libraries in a Local Authority area per week. Large libraries typically get 6,500 visitors a week using their internet access. I want to see libraries right at the heart of the digital inclusion mission.’

      Sorry to hear speeds at your local centre aren’t up to scratch – ask your librarian who is in charge of libraries at your local authority to get things up to speed.

  13. P. Bois permalink
    July 12, 2010 1:37 pm

    The pressure for higher internet speeds and wider access is commendable.
    However there is a small minority of subscibers in certain country areas where broadband is not available; the connection to the local exchange is copper, not optical fibre and too distant for anything but a very slow dial up service. Mobile broad band is either not available ( no line of sight to a mast therefore no mobile reception ) or very slow and interrupted.
    As speed increases generally websites exploit the speed with colour video and speech: they become unusable for those country areas. As an example I was unable to use even hotmail in Dorset, 4 miles from Blandford; I could connect but not move to another page once connected. Moving around other websites was impossibly slow as it took minutes to recieve the next page.
    The web should be invaluable to isolated businesses, it should be part of the reform of the countryside economy but this would be impossible to achieve at such primatively slow speeds. Do not increase speed for the higher concentrations of population until good working speeds are available to all. I very much hope that you can bring pressure to bear to achieve this.
    Thank you,
    Yours sincerely, Piers Bois
    PS You will see that I am sending this from outside England but the message is no less urgent.

    • July 14, 2010 5:39 pm

      Unfortunatley, rural broadband coverage falls outside our remit: while our work builds on Government plans to increase broadband speeds and reach throughout the UK, we are concentrating our efforts on bringing about social and economic change and improving people’s lives by inspiring them to equip themselves with this fundamental skill.

      However early conversations show that new ministers are very aware of your point about the link between rural access and rural economic development and that they are committed to universal broadband access.

  14. July 12, 2010 10:26 am

    This promts several thoughts starting with the invitation from Stanford a few months ago, to participate in the discussion on Leveraging Technology for Innovation, where I described our work in Eastern Europe:

    Our efforts in making the socio-economic case seem to be reflected by the new digital manifesto.

    Some may ask why we didn’t do this in Britain first and the answer is, we were not welcome by a government who hadn’t understood the import of this and excluded our founder from re-visiting the UK.

    We may still have a country where innovators and pioneers are painted out of the picture.

    Yes we want help from David Cameron who offers a Big Society, but we’ve moved on from digital inclusion to see it as just one element of empowerment. What he’s been thinking about is what we’ve been putting into practice for over a decade.

    Our own exclusion – as pioneering advocates for digital inclusion and inclusive capitalism finds us focussing on Ukraine, where we raise awareness of those most vulnerable and gree based capitalism in the form of organised crime. This is a call for those with hearts and spines to do more than passive advocacy.


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