Digital Exclusion (Universal Credit)

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 11th March 2013.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 2:30 pm, 11th March 2013

What plans he has to tackle the potential for digital exclusion under his plans for universal credit; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

It is important to recognise that 80% of existing benefit claimants already use the internet. For the minority who do not, we are helping them move online by, for example, working with digital champions, testing the new universal credit system with more than 6,200 real claimants to date, and developing a local support framework to ensure bespoke services. Even before universal credit is introduced, we are seeing the effect of this change.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

My right hon. Friend gives a good indication of the progress being made, but he will know that a number of people who are applying for universal credit and, indeed, other benefits will not have access to a computer, technical skills or even broadband. What sort of support is he giving them?

Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We have put—and will continue to do so—large numbers of internet access devices in jobcentres, so people will automatically get help and support when they go in. We are talking and working with local authorities to ensure that people will be able to gain immediate access through libraries and all other local authority outlets. We are also working with individuals to make sure that those who have computers at home fully understand how to use the system. The truth is that this will be helpful. The Opposition seem to occasionally miss the fact that 92% of advertised vacancies require basic IT skills and that if people do not have the ability to go on a computer, they cannot apply for the job.