An estimated 12.6 million adults, or 23% of the UK adult population – that’s almost one in four – lack at least one of the five Basic Digital Skills, defined as Managing information, Communicating, Transacting, Problem-solving and Creating.
A new Cebr study commissioned by digital inclusion organisation Tinder Foundation and digital skills charity Go ON UK estimates that over the ten year period between 2016 and 2025, 4.9 million of those who do not possess Basic Digital Skills will get online without additional help, but the remaining 7.9 million (15% of the adult population) will still need support to gain Basic Digital Skills at an estimated cost of between £44 and £351 per person.
The study calculates that with an investment of £1.31 billion in skills provision and £336 million spending on digital devices by individuals over a ten year period, the economy would reap a £14.3 billion benefit, with a return of almost £10 for every £1 invested.
The report sets out the six main benefits to individuals and to the Government of equipping 100% of the population with Basic Digital Skills:
● Earnings benefits – people in work who gain basic digital skills can increase their earnings by between 3% and 10% . If everyone in work is to gain these skills, it will lead to net earnings benefits of £358 million per year for individuals, and £243 million per year for Government from higher income tax and national insurance receipts by 2025.
● Employment benefits – digital skills help unemployed people find work and prepare people for work-readiness. It also encourages those who are economically inactive to start looking for work. It is estimated these benefits will lead to £204 million per year for individuals’ earnings, and £79 million for government by 2025.
● Communication benefits – digital skills improve the ability to communicate and connect with family and friends, leading to increased spend on recreation and cultural activities. The report estimates the aggregate additional expenditure on recreational and cultural activities to amount to £415 million per year by 2025.
● Transaction benefits – Shopping online saves people on average 13% compared to shopping in-store, equivalent to £143 per person per year. The estimated transaction benefits of giving Basic Digital Skills to those currently without them are £796 million per year by 2025.
● Time savings – By accessing services online, individuals save 30 minutes of their leisure time on average per transaction , saving 30 hours annually. In monetary terms, this time saving is estimated to be worth £1.5 billion per year by 2025.
● NHS cost savings – Tinder Foundations’ NHS Widening Digital Participation programme found that after having learnt about health resources through training, a third of learners made fewer visits to a doctor. Based on a cost to the NHS of £45 per GP visit, ensuring everyone had the Basic Digital Skills to access health information online would provide savings of £121 million a year by 2025.