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New national tool launched as part of Get Online Week to help tackle digital exclusion

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TO mark Get Online Week, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (@greatermcr) has launched an innovative tool which helps organisations identify areas with high levels of digital exclusion risk.

The Digital Exclusion Risk Index tool, for England, Wales and Scotland, was developed in alignment with a similar tool used by Salford Council in response to local authorities finding digital exclusion a significant challenge for residents and communities during the pandemic. Local authorities found they were unable to understand the scale of the challenge locally, and the absence of a single consistent view or understanding of digital exclusion as a facet of broader social inequalities. Through a collaboration with other Combined Authorities and Local Authorities nationally, the tool was developed to benefit local authorities in providing detailed insight into where digital inclusion initiatives are needed most.

The tool was launched today (Friday 22nd October) during Greater Manchester’s showcase event: ‘How Greater Manchester is Helping People to Thrive in a Digital World’. GMCA held the event to celebrate one year since the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda was launched and featured a showcase of impact achieved, which has been recognised nationally as an exemplar of best practice for regions to address digital inequity.

During Get Online Week in 2020, and as a response to the scale of inequalities highlighted during the pandemic, GMCA launched the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda for Change. Following his re-election in May 2021, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham announced his Mayoral Manifesto ambition to equip all under-25s, over-75s and disabled people with the skills, connectivity and technology to get online.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: 

“The time has come that digital access is considered a basic human right. We must fix the digital divide, the consequences of not doing so are severe – with our people at risk of further social isolation, lack of equal opportunities and not being able to access support, with so many services moving online due to the pandemic.

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“The DERI Tool is nationally significant in how we understand levels of digital exclusion and inequalities and those areas at particular risk of exclusion so that we can collectively work to address the issue and support our residents and communities to thrive.”

The event showcased programmes including Digital Wigan and the Greater Manchester Technology fund, which saw local businesses come together to support young learners to get the technology needed to continue their learning from home while schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GMCA have worked closely with a wide range of organisations including UNICEF, Local Authorities and Good Things Foundation to test the tool and gather feedback to maximise its value. The tool will also continue to be developed and updated with the latest information. 

Helen Milner OBE, Chief Executive, Good Things Foundation said: 

“It’s never been more important to be online – but 10 million people in the UK still lack the most basic digital skills. Detailed and accurate data is crucial to understanding and therefore tackling the complex issue at a community level – and so we’re delighted to see the launch of this new tool, it will be a vital asset in helping us to close the digital divide”

Organised by Good Things Foundation, Get Online Week is a national digital inclusion campaign which sees thousands of local events take place, hosted by community organisations, giving everyone the chance to find the support they need to improve their digital skills and benefit from the digital world.

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