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Liverpool must lead on digital inclusion

October 1, 2011

The Liverpool City Council Meeting of 14 September offered Cllr Laura Robertson-Collins the opportunity to make her first formal speech, on a subject central to her concerns about inclusion.  As Assistant Cabinet Member for Employment, Enterprise and Skills, Laura proposed – and the Councillors agreed – that Liverpool take a pioneering role in the UK-wide campaign to achieve full digital inclusion by 2012, via the Race Online 2012 programme.

The objective of full digital inclusion will, it is hoped, be achieved by active engagement in the programme of Race Online 2012, Give an Hour and Get Online Week, which runs during October and November 2011.  This is what Laura said about it in the Liverpool City Council Meeting of 14 September….

Go On: Give An Hour Liverpool

I want to use this opportunity to talk about something POSITIVE for our city – not just to move a motion we can all agree as  being a ‘good thing’….

I would like to ask ALL Councillors (Members) if they will pledge make contribution to the digital inclusion campaign that could make REAL difference to our city and many individuals in it.

I don’t want Members to just to nod it through and forget about it … or to  think Officers of the Council will sort it out….  I am asking colleagues to play an active role over the next few months in what I hope will be a high profile  national campaign on digital inclusion – with Liverpool at the forefront of it!

What is digital inclusion?
Being digitally included simply means you have the facilities and the skills to access the internet – to ‘get online’

This is perhaps something we in the Council chamber all take for granted now – but we are seeing an increasingly ‘digitally-divided’  society.  Consider these facts:

  • Nationally, nearly 10m people do not use the internet at all – 1 in 5 of the adult population
  • In Liverpool – with our lower levels of both skills and economic activity – that goes up to 1 in 4
  • That’s 100,000 people in our city who cannot access the many jobs and opportunities that are now exclusively advertised online, or many educational and training opportunities available
  • Government agencies increasingly require customers to access services online, and this saves us money , as service providers
  • Look at the importance of e-communications in last month’s  disturbances – and the role of Facebook etc in social organising the ‘clear-up’ to combat that!
  • And people who are still offline cannot access the frequently cheaper goodsand services that buying online provides – estimates show that families who shop online save over £500 a year
  •  Of course, it is those who can least afford not to make these savings who are the people most excluded from doing so
  • ALL STUDIES show a close correlation between being digitally excluded and being financially or socially excluded – or both
  • Digital inclusion is not just an issue of easier and quicker communications – but one of social justice – and it’s an issue we can all do something about.

Including everyone ‘in’
As Members can see from the motion, there is a big national campaign on this called Race Online – the race to get everyone online by the end of the Olympics in 2012 – which is being led by Martha Lane Fox.

Liverpool has plans to participate fully in this – we aim to reduce the number of digitally excluded people by 25,000 by next March, the time of our Global Enterprise Conference; and we are asking some of the 30 million people who do use the internet daily in the UK to sign up as ‘digital champions’ – we have a local target for this of 5,000 by March next year.

>>> Wouldn’t it be great if 90 of those 5,000 could be the Councillors in this Chamber??

The ‘Go On Liverpool’ campaign will include high-profile publicity from the BBC and other partners to ask people to ‘Give An Hour’ at the end of next month – when clocks go back and we get an ‘extra’ hour.

I’m asking Members to speak to  community groups and local leaders in your wards, to your employers and your trade unions to raise the profile of this campaign. I want to encourage people to hold activities in workplaces and local organisations at the end of October to promote the benefits of being online and ways to access training to do so.

Working with Registered Social Landlords
In particular I ask Members who work with the Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and others in your neighbourhoods to encourage them to provide access to free or cheap wi-fi for their tenants

Half of all digitally excluded people in the UK are tenants of social landlords

I’m currently working closely with my colleagues in the administration – with the Cabinet member for schools and with the Assistant Cabinet Member responsible for Enterprise – to maximise the impact of this campaign across the city

BUT I am also asking ALL Members to  take a leadership role in your wards and help us to make a real difference to the lives of many people and to open up chances for them.

  • Please support this motion.

But don’t JUST support it – go out into your communities and take a lead on this vital issue.

We can make a real difference on this. 


[Note: To get involved, please register your interest at]

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MINUTES of the Liverpool City Council Meeting of 14 September 2011

(section on Digital Inclusion only)

49.  Race Online 2012, Give an Hour and Get Online Week:

Liverpool’s Digital Inclusion Campaign

 by Councillors Laura Robertson-Collins and Nick Small

Motion by Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, seconded by Councillor Nick Small –

Council notes:

That a high proportion (around a quarter – or 100,000) of Liverpool residents are ‘digitally excluded’ ie do not have access to the internet;

That digital exclusion correlates closely to social and financial exclusion – those without IT skills find it harder to access education and employment opportunities, and miss out on opportunities to save money by accessing goods and services online;

That 30 million people in the UK use the internet daily – but nearly 10 million never do.

The ‘Give An Hour’ campaign hopes to link these two groups so that those with IT skills can ‘Give an Hour’ on 30th October (when clocks go back and we get ‘extra’ hour) to show those without IT skills how to use computer and access internet; and

That Race Online 2012 is a national campaign to get everyone online by the end of the Olympic year (hence the ‘race’) which has chosen Liverpool to focus a campaign due to the high level of digital exclusion; and in recognition of Liverpool’s Digital Inclusion Strategy which means such a campaign can be sustainable

Council Resolves to:

Ask elected members to sign up as ‘Digital Champions’ to commit to helping others get online, which is a major part of this campaign

– this can be done quickly at

Promote the campaign to get Liverpool residents online via the council’s resources and with our Race Online 2012 partners (Vision; Race Online; RSLs; the health service; Fire and rescue; the BBC and others) including spreading the message via the council website, council newsletters, promotional materials in council offices and public spaces as appropriate.

The Motion was carried and it was resolved accordingly.

One Comment leave one →
  1. argybargy17 permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:14 am

    It is interesting that the speech notes that Liverpool’s ‘off line’ community is 1 in 4. Why then has the council closed the cities main tourist information centre, used by local people to access cultural activity across the city region, and replaced it with an App?!

    Cart before horse, surely. Maybe venues like this should be used to encourage people to get online before simply closing them and in effect excluding people from the great tourist and cultural activities our city has to offer.

    Think again!?

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