Digital exclusion

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 21st September 2022.

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Photo of Anne Clarke Anne Clarke Labour

The London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) and the Digital Exclusion Taskforce have been working to tackle the barriers Londoners face to getting online. One thing that can prevent some people from using the internet is the cost of broadband and this is a particular problem for older Londoners, given that London has the highest level of pensioner poverty in the country. Most internet providers offer a low-cost social tariff but this is not available to anyone aged 66 and over. Does the Mayor support Age UK London’s Mind the Digital Gap campaign which is calling on internet providers to make older Londoners over 67 eligible for their lowest cost broadband deals? If so, what help can you give them in promoting the campaign?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I support Age UK’s ‘Mind the Digital Gap’ campaign to make all social tariffs available to Londoners aged 67 and over, and the light it shines on the lack of availability for older Londoners.

My Chief Digital Officer and the members of the Digital Exclusion Taskforce, of which Age UK London is a member, have highlighted this issue directly to telecom operators who have begun enhancing their tariffs beyond those receiving Universal Credit. At present, BT, G.Network and Hyperoptic have included those on Pension Credit to now be eligible to apply for their respective social tariffs, and Community Fibre have removed all eligibility criteria and opened up their social tariff package to any Londoner wherever their network is present.

Whilst awareness has been amplified over the past 12 months, data from operators signals that take up for social tariffs remains low for a number of reasons. My officers are working with operators and boroughs to better understand how take up can be improved in London, including through the proposed new Digital Inclusion Service.

Government has recently launched a new service which allows operators that sign up with limited access to DWP benefits systems to confirm if a customer is eligible for a social tariff, which aims to speed up the process. Operators are calling on the Government to reduce VAT for broadband bills to improve affordability, this measure could reduce bills by on average £3 a month.