Leave nobody in the dark

June 25, 2020 | London, UK | By Suman Hughes

Good Things Foundation, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The APLE Collective, Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC and Mastercard have formed a coalition of partners to offer immediate support to digitally and financially excluded people in the UK, with a focus on those in poverty hit hardest by the impact of COVID-19.

Digital inequality has for some time risked exacerbating poverty and reducing financial wellbeing. However, the need to bring together digital skills and inclusion - and practical help with money - has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis.

The coalition seeks to address this challenge by supporting those most in need. The ‘Leave Nobody in the Dark’ campaign highlights these issues and more importantly addresses them with practical help: personal 1-2-1 support, digital devices and bespoke online resources.

In the UK, 11.7 million people lack basic digital skills1 and there are an estimated 1.9 million households with no internet access.2 This digital divide is most pronounced for those living in poverty; almost half of those with an income below £11,500 lack essential digital skills compared to less than 11% of those with an income over £25,000.1

An estimated 6 million people have fallen behind on a household bill due to Coronavirus,3 and the data shows that the least digitally engaged are more likely to be paying higher household bills irrespective of income, household or age; for utilities alone, they are spending an average of over £348 more per year.1

The programme will deliver*:

    • A new self-help portal, nobodyinthedark.co.uk, for those who have limited digital skills to boost their online confidence and engage with free, trusted online support around money, security, benefits and debt
    • Devices, data and digital skills support to people in poverty, through DevicesDotNow
    • Practical money help and improved digital confidence, delivered remotely by Clean Slate and other community partners

Helen Milner, CEO, Good Things Foundation commented: “COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the links between digital exclusion and poverty. Too many people are locked out of online savings, help with debt, and essential support because of digital exclusion and data poverty. As part of this cross-sector coalition, we’re committed to changing this, so nobody is left in the dark.”

Kelly Devine, Divisional President, Mastercard UK & Ireland commented: “When people thrive, economies thrive. To recover from COVID-19 in a long-term, sustainable way, we have to make sure that everyone is included. Helping people access the digital economy, and feel confident in doing so, is a critical part of that. There is no more crucial time to ensure that everyone is connected and has access to the digital services and resources that they need. Now is the time to act, to ensure nobody is left in the dark.”

Helen Barnard, Acting Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “In the UK we recognise that being able to use digital devices and get online is essential to manage our finances and participate in modern society. People on low incomes were struggling against a tide of rising costs, low wages and inadequate social security before coronavirus and the lockdown has only made things worse. This scheme is crucial to ensure that people are not locked out of digital opportunities at a time when they are most needed - with huge disruption to the labour market, more people needing to apply for social security online and children having to access online learning whilst schools are closed.”

Jeff Mitchell, Founder of Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC commented: “People we work with from disadvantaged communities say vital information about ways to get ahead is hidden from them. Lockdown has reinforced this for households with no access to the internet. With millions more now on the breadline, digital tools and resources produced specifically for them should come into their own. Guided support through the process will also help end exclusion.”

APLE Collective commented: “APLE Collective welcome the work of Good Things Foundation in addressing the digital divide. We believe that only by including the voices of people with lived experiences of poverty can effective changes to anti-poverty policy and practice be achieved.”

Case study – the difference digital skills can make

Kerry, 30, found herself in a difficult situation with debts mounting up. “I was in quite a bit of debt - I had an overdraft in my bank which kept going up and up and up. The money was going in but it wasn’t balancing out. It was very difficult; I became a bit of an insomniac wondering if I would have enough money to feed my son”.

After attending IT sessions with Black Country Click Start and Housing Association whg, Kerry is now in control of her finances. “They helped me to set up an online bank account and from there I progressed. Now I manage my money a lot better.”

Kerry is now debt free and says “Even the slightest little things you can do in your day to day like using spreadsheets or online banking can help. You wouldn’t think having an app would help you but just having that helped me not be in debt!”

Supporting statistics

1Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020
2ONS, Internet access – households and individuals, Great Britain: 2019
 3Citizen's Advice, Near the cliff edge: how to protect households facing debt during COVID-19 (2020)

Notes to editors

*Supported by Mastercard Impact Fund, with support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Good Things Foundation is collaborating with Mastercard, Clean Slate/QuidsIn!, APLE Collective and community partners on an emergency response to reduce digital and financial exclusion. Together we aim to support 800 people (DevicesDotNow), 525 people (provision of digital financial support) and to reach 1.6 million people who are financially and digitally underserved (self-help portal).

About Good Things Foundation www.goodthingsfoundation.org Good Things Foundation is a social change charity, helping people to improve their lives through digital. Through thousands of Network partners in communities across the UK, Good Things Foundation has supported more than 3 million people to gain digital skills since 2010. Our vision is a world where everyone has the confidence, skills, support and access to use digital technology, participate in society and benefit from the digital world.

Follow us on Twitter @goodthingsfdn.

About Joseph Rowntree Foundation www.jrf.org.uk The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is an independent social change organisation whose vision is for a prosperous and poverty-free UK. We are working to build the public and political will to solve poverty. We believe that people with direct experience of poverty should be at the heart of our influencing efforts and the design of effective solutions to poverty. During this pandemic reduced incomes and higher living costs have tested many families resources. While families are reeling from the effects of lockdown, it’s simply not right that children should have to face the additional worry of feeling hungry or being evicted. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak we’ve funded a programme of community level responses and are advocating for change in partnership with people experiencing poverty.

Follow us on Twitter @JRF_UK.

About APLE Collective www.aplecollective.com The APLE Collective is a national collective of individuals who experience poverty. It is only when people with direct experience of any given issue are able to have opportunities to affect the decisions that impact on them, that real, meaningful change can happen. A collective can offer support and make it possible to affect change. We aim to create a sustainable grassroots network across the UK and to raise awareness of poverty, reduce stigma and work together to affect change.

Follow us on Twitter @APLECollective.

Suman Hughes