One in three UK adults have cut back their spending on key digital access, according to new research conducted by Currys, The Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA) and YouGov.
The study revealed that a quarter of adults (27 per cent) have switched to a cheaper, less comprehensive broadband or mobile phone plan, whilst one in five (19 per cent) have downgraded their phone or laptop devices – buying cheaper models, delaying upgrades, or sharing devices between friends or family – in order to save money.
Yet despite this, the research found that 89 per cent of adults believe that personally having access to the internet is important.
With these cutbacks in mind, many people are worried they will be left feeling the effects of digital poverty. For those who have reduced their spending on tech, some fear they could miss out on essential services (that are online based), some worry about being left socially isolated, and others are concerned they’ll struggle to find work.
The DPA is an initiative of the charity the Learning Foundation, Currys plc, and the Institute of Engineering and Technology. The organisation was established with the ambition to end digital poverty in the UK by 2030. Over the festive period, Currys implemented a range of fundraising initiatives across its stores nationwide, which generated over £70,000 in donations to tackle digital poverty.
These included an interactive fundraising campaign that educated the public about the scale of the issue, while the retailer and its customers also contributed to the DPA via sales of colleague-designed Christmas gift cards, plus it matched donations made in-store made via Pennies and a fundraising festive drill rap video, ‘Merry Techmas’.
Through Currys’ partnership with Pennies, since May customer donations made at check-out in UK stores have funded the brand’s Tech4Families scheme with the Digital Poverty Alliance. To date, the retail giant has raised more than £180,000 for the DPA – which has sent 300 laptops to families in need.
Paula Coughlan, Chief People, Communications and Sustainability Officer for Currys plc, said: “Whilst it’s important we continue to spotlight the issue of digital poverty via new research, it’s also critical that we provide the financial backing to help support those in digital need in the short-term. That’s why this winter, we implemented a number of fundraising initiatives to generate vital funds that will support those without access to technology.”
Elizabeth Anderson, COO for the Digital Poverty Alliance, added: “Thanks to vital fundraising efforts like the ones Currys has made over the festive period, in the last 12 months we have rolled out two impactful campaigns across the UK, distributing 1,650 laptops to staff and teachers in schools that need them via Tech4Teachers. We have also released 200 brand-new Lenovo laptops to low-income families with our Tech4Families initiative.
“Nevertheless, it’s clear the hard work needs to continue.”