The Tech Partnership

In today’s digital economy, being able to use modern technology and navigate the Internet should be considered as important as English and Maths. But too many people struggle to get by.

Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State, Culture, Media & Sport

Digital exclusion


What is digital exclusion?

Digital exclusion is the inability to access online products or services or to use simple forms of digital technology. This disproportionately affects vulnerable people, low-income groups, the elderly and the more marginalised communities in our society. This creates a strong correlation between digital exclusion and social exclusion.

The economic impact of digital exclusion is equally challenging at a time when 90% of all jobs require some form of digital capability and the UK faces a major shortage of digital skills at all levels.


Digital exclusion heatmap

The Digital Exclusion Heatmap shows the likelihood of digital exclusion across the UK at Local Authority level. It uses 8 different digital and social metrics to calculate the overall likelihood of exclusion, from unlikely to likely.

Originally for Go On UK, Get Digital's heatmap was developed with support from the BBC as part of their Make It Digital and wider digital literacy initiatives, the Local Government Association and The London School of Economics and Political Science, in association with Lloyds Banking Group.

Visit the Digital Exclusion Heatmap


Common causes of digital exclusion

  • Skills: including the confidence to use them
  • Access: including available infrastructure, broadband speed and local amenities
  • Cost: including cost of devices, broadband subscription or monthly fees for mobile data
  • Motivation: the personal aspiration that makes gaining digital skills relevant and important. If people fundamentally don't believe that using the internet will be relevant to them and their needs it will be almost impossible to persuade them.


How these causes relate


Skills, access and cost are the ‘hygiene’ factors that need to be in place before anyone can access digital products and services. We cannot simply tackle these barriers in isolation. Investing in broadband is not enough if 21% of adults cannot take advantage of it. And investing in skills and low-cost devices is not enough if the infrastructure is not available for people to use them. 

Motivation has the power to reduce or remove the other 3 barriers. When motivation is lacking, it is a significant barrier. When motivation is present, it is a significant enabler.


For businesses and charities, time is more of a barrier to gaining digital skills than access. Motivation, as with individuals, has the power to reduce or remove the other barriers.


Discover more data via the Digital Exclusion Heatmap