New report exposes the realities of digital exclusion in Scotland

In a report published on 22 August, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) presented the results of their research on digital exclusion in Scotland. Their findings highlight that despite the large proportion of internet users in Scotland, 21% of adults still lack the basic digital skills that would enable them to benefit fully from its social and economic advantages. 


The research compiles evidence gathered from evaluations of local projects to tackle digital exclusion, along with a literature review conducted in collaboration with the University of the West of Scotland.

The research evidences that 8 out of 10 people use the internet on a daily basis, but that 21% of adults in Scotland still lack the basic digital skills to take advantage of the benefits the internet can bring. In addition, the most vulnerable populations, and those most in need of public services – including those on low incomes, older people, or those suffering from disabilities – are at a greater risk of digital exclusion. As a result, they are the least likely to have access to the information and opportunities offered by public services. 

SCVO’s Digital Director David McNeill believes the answer lies in a broader approach to social exclusion: “Ambitions to deliver more public services online, particularly welfare and benefits, risk further disenfranchising people who already face multiple forms of social exclusion. We are calling on organisations across the public, private and third sectors working with older people, disabled people and those on low incomes to sign Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter and join a national movement to tackle digital exclusion.”

Edinburgh-based charity People Know How received £10,000 from the Charter Fund in April 2017, which is now being used to help hundreds of people of all ages gain digital skills and the confidence to use technology to help improve their lives.

Founder Glenn Liddall said: “We have helped people with things like applying for college, housing applications and applying for Disability Living Allowance. It is absolutely crucial that these people are not forgotten about – digital skills are directly linked to poverty. If people can’t use basic computer skills and the internet then they are already missing out on a whole raft of things.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Getting more people online in Scotland returns a range of social, cultural and economic benefits and is crucial to our future growth and success. We are working with several organisations, including SCVO, to improve digital participation across Scotland’s communities and ensure digital technology is not allowed to reinforce social and economic inequalities.” 

The full findings can be found at

News release: SCVO

Centre for Scottish Public Policy
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