Here's a round up of useful facts about digital inclusion, based primarily on the Lloyds Consumer Digital Report.

lady at a computer

As a nation, we are digitally divided. 

Many people cannot thrive in our society because they do not have the right digital skills and capabilities. 

  • 35% of us have "low" or "very low" digital skills. That’s 18.2 million people.
  • 2.1m people are offline. 
  • Half of us don’t have the full set of Essential Digital Skills for work.
  • Only a third of us have all the skills needed to stay safe online.
  • 24.3m people are not interested in up-skilling.

Our take outs from the 2023 report

The 2023 picture has lots of positives! Our digital skills are improving and people across society are slowly gaining skills and confidence.

But the positive stats can't conceal that there is huge disparity between those with confidence and capability and those without. And the gap is widening.

It’s great that the number of people who can connect to Wi-Fi has increased. It’s not so great that 4.7 million people  still can’t do this. Particularly when 36% found the cost of living crisis impacted their ability to go online, and 4m people made more use of public Wi-Fi. 

So we don't want to look at the stats in a negative way but we're a long way off fixing the digital divide. And we have pulled out the facts that make this clear. 

Understanding the Lloyds Report

This is a hugely authoritative annual survey, created by Lloyds Bank, with some DoE funding and input from experts across the digital inclusion world (we’re one of the partners).

The report puts people into four bands of digital and of financial capability, from "very low" to "very high" and looks at the qualities of the bands and how they intersect. It uses the Essential Digital Skills for Life and Work framework, which are a set of basic skills that people need to take part in society and do their jobs.

There's too much data  to fit even into their report, so if you want to drill down in specific areas, it's well worth checking out their interactive data sets as well as the full report

Who's got digital skills...

There are 4 bands and encouragingly 65% of us have "high" or "very high" digital skills. But not everybody is making the same progress...

The "very low" band…

  • 25% of us have "very low" digital skills. 
  • 6.8 million people have ultra-low digital skills, that's 13% of us.
  • Two-thirds of these people are over 70.
  • 4% are offline (that’s 2.1m people). Of those offline, 15% are under 50 but as a cohort they tend to be older; retired; twice as likely to have a health condition than those online and nearly a quarter have no formal qualifications.
  • They’re offline for many reasons, including the cost, lack of devices, no motivation or interest, and fear of fraud.

Moving up and down

There is movement across the bands. Capability is not static, it can go up and down, but…

  • 60% of people in the bottom band stay in bottom band – indicating it is very hard for people with the lowest digitals skills to improve.
  • 3.1m people have downgraded a digital segment since the 2022 report.
  • Age is the key determinant in the ability to shift segment and the older you are the harder it is.
  • But encouragingly, once older people obtain a high level of digital skills, they maintain them. 70% stay in this higher level.

Digital Skills and Universal Credit

UC is primarily accessed and managed online so having basic digital skills is essential.

  • 44% of those on universal credit are in the "very high" digital segment (vs. 36% of the total population)
  • 41% have upgraded a segment since 2022.
  • The report says this "could indicate that the digital-by-default system has forced claimants to steadily improve their digital skills out of necessity." 
  • But 19% are in the lower digital segments.
  • One third of the 2.9 million registrations for UC did not result in a claim, suggesting that that is hard for some claimants to compete the online form.

Financial and Digital Capability

The two don’t track exactly. Partly because both are closely linked to age, broadly the younger you are, the better your digital skills, the older you are, the better your financial capability.

Digital enablement does has a positive impact on personal finances and those with high digital and financial capability are saving £900 a year more than those in lower groups.

But It's difficult to untangle the links between digital and financial capability. For example, those offline are less likely to be able to cope with a financial shock for three months or more but they’re also more likely to be retired or lack formal qualifications (which will impact earnings and savings).

People with "very low" digital skills in comparison with "very high"

  • In the "very low" band, 45% aren’t confident using the internet compared to 95% in the "very high."
  • 80% don’t shop around for deals compared to 70%.
  • Check their bank account 5 times a month compared to 48 times a month.


The Essential Digital Skills for Life and Work

The EDS Framework starts with a foundation level of eight fundamental digital skills. these are things like using a mouse and adjusting settings on a device.

The Foundation level

  • 44.7m people have the full set, which is nearly 90%
  • 8.5m people don't.
  • 4.7m people can’t connect to WiFi (which is the hardest task).
  • Any form of impairment, particularly a physical impairment that affects sight or hearing, means you are less likely to be able to have the foundation skills - 75% of people with an impairment have the full set. 
  • There have been some positive shifts in the motivation of older people to do tasks independently but many still struggle with the full set. 25% can’t connect to Wi-fi, even though 92% of them have an internet enabled device.

EDS for Life and Work

Thee are 26 life tasks and 20 work tasks, split across 5 areas – communicating; handling information; transacting; problem solving and being safe online. The skills are things like using search engines, making video calls, keeping data safe and accessing digital pay slips

You only need one in each area of life or work skills to count as achieving Life or Work EDS. This reflects that fact that people don’t learn everything and in the same order, but can make it hard to establish exactly who knows what…

For example, 38% in medical profession can do all tasks and 88% are classed as having “EDS for Work” but this might mean they can only do 5 out of the 20 tasks..

EDS for Life

Half of us can do all of them. But..

  • 92% of people have life EDS (eg: one in each area).
  • 8% don’t have one in each area, that’s  4.4 million adults.
  • 1.5m have zero and cannot do any of the tasks by themselves,
  • 12.6m can’t use the Cloud.
  • 9.7m struggle with privacy and marketing settings, putting their online safety at risk.
  • 9.4m can’t use software to create documents - which is 18% of us(more people can post on social media than create documents -  85% can).

EDS for Work 

There’s been some steady improvement this year.

  • 46% of us can do all the tasks.
  • 82% count as having Work EDS (at least one task in each area).
  • 18% don't don’t have one task in each area, that's 7.5m people.
  • 5% (1.9m) don’t have any skills at all.
  • The skills most lacking are around using productivity tools - 12.6m can’t use them to their own productivity and 9.6m can’t set privacy and marketing settings.

How do people want to be supported...

There is a huge appetite for learning new skills and range of ways people want to learn, both in terms of how they learn and with whom.  This question allows people to pick as many as ways they like and it looks like people want multiple ways to learn:

  • 79% self-taught
  • 75% online
  • 68% friends
  • 65% face-to-face
  • 66% through work
  • 64% family
  • 47% by a brand
  • 47% by a bank

This openness is new since the pandemic.There is a growing sense that businesses have a responsibility to support their customers, especially if they are digital first. But there is also an increased openness in learners to being taught digital skills by these businesses.

As the report says, “support needs to be embedded in places and spaces where consumers are”.

three young women round a tablet

A note for Employers

Employers need people with digital skills!  16.3 million people want to learn new digital skills and two-thirds of people see work as the best place to do it..

  • Three-quarters of all jobs at all levels now demand digital skills (DCMS Report 2019)
  • 92% businesses say that having a basic level of digital skills is important for employees at their organisation (Learning and Work, Exploring the Digital Skills Gap 2021)
  • 76% businesses say that a lack of digital skills would affect the profitability of their business (as above)

Employers need to think not just about supporting digital skills but about raising awareness of digital inclusion and digital engagement more broadly. Benefits accrue to employers directly through the development of a digitally competent workforce and in their evolution as a digitally responsible business.


Helpful figures from previous/ different reports 

The focus of the Lloyds report has changed slightly over the years. For example, during the pandemic, it focussed more on well-being than on financial stability. So some of these stats haven't been up dated but are still useful. From 2022...

  • 5m people (10%) can’t use an app
  • Those with high digital capability make up to £442 a month more than those in a similar job at a similar level but with low digital skills.
  • They save 2.2x more frequently and 5.1 times more money, a “digital dividend” Lloyds puts at £659 a year.

There are “soft” benefits too. In 2021 the Llloyds report included stats on what people gain from digital skills, highlighting trends that will only have increased as services and organisations become “digital first”.

  • Managing everyday life: 77% of those online acknowledged that technology helps them in a number of ways, making their lives easier.
  • An antidote to isolation: 51% say the Internet helped them to feel less alone.
  • Managing health and wellbeing: 37% of people say the Internet helps them manage and improve their physical health; 25% of people say the Internet helps them manage and improve their mental health.
  • Stimulates learning and curiosity: 91% of those online plan to continue with their new online activities in the future. 38% of Internet users have engaged in e-learning for the first time or in new ways.
How can Digital Champions make a difference?