Digital exclusion


What is digital exclusion?

Digital exclusion is the inability to access online products or services or to use simple forms of digital technology. This disproportionately affects vulnerable people, low-income groups, the elderly and the more marginalised communities in our society. This creates a strong correlation between digital exclusion and social exclusion.

The economic impact of digital exclusion is equally challenging at a time when it is forecast that 90% of all jobs will soon require some form of digital capability and the UK faces a major shortage of digital skills at all levels.


Get Digital Heatmap

The Get Digital Heatmap shows the likelihood of digital exclusion across the UK at local authority level. It uses eight different digital and social metrics to calculate the overall likelihood of exclusion.

The Get Digital Heatmap was developed with the Local Government Association and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), in association with Lloyds Banking Group.

Visit the Get Digital Heatmap to find out about digital exclusion across the UK


Common causes of digital exclusion

  • Skills and the confidence to use them
  • Access to infrastructure, fast broadband and local amenities
  • Cost including devices, broadband subscription or monthly fees for mobile data
  • Motivation and the personal aspiration that makes gaining digital skills relevant and important. If people fundamentally don’t believe that using the internet will be relevant to them and their needs, it will be almost impossible to persuade them.


How these causes relate


Skills, access and cost are the ‘hygiene’ factors that need to be in place before anyone can access digital products and services. We can’t simply tackle these barriers in isolation. Investing in broadband is not enough if 21% of adults cannot take advantage of it. And investing in skills and low-cost devices is not enough if the infrastructure is not available for people to use them.

Motivation has the power to reduce or remove the other 3 barriers. When motivation is lacking, it is a significant barrier. When motivation is present, it is a significant enabler.


For businesses and charities, time is more of a barrier to gaining digital skills than access. Motivation, as with individuals, has the power to reduce or remove the other barriers.


View the Heatmap to find out about levels of digital exclusion in your area