Policy paper

Action 15: collaborate with partners across public, private and voluntary sectors to help people go online

Updated 16 January 2015

This action forms part of the Government Digital Strategy.

Action 15 was added to the Digital Strategy in December 2013, so reporting on departments’ actions will begin with 2014.

Here’s how departments are responding to this action:

The Attorney General’s Office

Progress during 2014

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) continues to support the work of the Government Digital Service (GDS) Digital Inclusion team.

Planned activities in 2015

AGO will continue to support the work of the GDS Digital Inclusion team.

Cabinet Office

Progress during 2014

Cabinet Office led on production of the Government Digital Inclusion Strategy and Charter. A Digital Inclusion team based in GDS is leading cross-government activity. It commissioned a major research project into digital exclusion which will help departments develop tailored services.

Planned activities in 2015

Office for Civil Society will develop a digital capabilities programme for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.

Based at GDS, the team will use research results to focus activity on the hardest to reach demographic groups, using tools which have been proven to work elsewhere.

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Progress during 2014

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is a member of the Digital Inclusion Sub-Group of Digital Leaders and has established a monthly meeting with GDS attended by a range of digital inclusion interests across BIS.

It provided funding of £100,000 in 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 to support the Digital Inclusion team and its activities. BIS funded 2 basic digital skills programmes in 2014 to 2015. Around £3 million is allocated to provide basic digital skills training in the financial year 2014 to 2015.

BIS and the National Offender Management Service created a virtual campus to help prisoners develop the skills they need to become more employable in an increasingly digital world.

Planned activities in 2015

The enhanced BIS Digital and Technology Transformation Team will support BIS policy colleagues to ensure that digital inclusion is considered as part of all policymaking. BIS will also identify a digital inclusion advocate at senior civil servant level to help drive this forward.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Progress during 2014

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is working with Broadband Delivery UK to extend superfast broadband to areas not covered by commercial services. By mid-November government’s roll-out had reached over 1.5 million UK premises. It is also offering broadband connection vouchers to SMEs, with 4,000 vouchers issued by mid-November from a total of 10,000.

Planned activities in 2015

DCMS will continue to extend its broadband programme and to issue connection vouchers to help bring superfast broadband to 95% of UK premises by 2017.

Department for Education

Progress during 2014

Department for Education (DfE) has appointed a digital inclusion lead, accountable to the departmental digital leader.

Planned activities in 2015

DfE’s digital inclusion lead, with the support of the digital leader, will continue to work with the digital inclusion team in GDS and collaborate with partners across public, private and voluntary sectors to build digital inclusion into policymaking.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Progress during 2014

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair’s Rural Communities Policy Unit includes a digital inclusion lead who provided support and advice to the cross-government digital inclusion team in GDS.

The digital inclusion lead is a member of the Digital Inclusion Sub-Group and ensured that the rural implications of digital inclusion were considered. The department is jointly funding research led by GDS into digital inclusion, and ensured that these rural issues will be incorporated within this research.

The department contributed to the development of the Digital Inclusion Strategy, and is embedding digital inclusion into delivery of digital and assisted digital services, particularly with Rural payments.

Planned activities in 2015

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair (Defra) will continue to support the digital inclusion team in GDS and will continue to be represented within the Digital Inclusion Sub-Group. It will provide GDS with support for digital inclusion research. Defra will wherever appropriate ensure that the rural dimensions of digital inclusion are taken into account in policymaking across government.

Department for International Development

Progress during 2014

Department for International Development (DFID) designs its services around user needs. Alternative methods of contacting the department are available for people without internet access or skills.

Planned activities for 2015

DFID will continue to ensure that its services are designed around user needs. Alternative methods of contacting the department will remain available for people without internet access or skills.

Department for Transport

Progress during 2014

Department for Transport (DfT) and its agencies sought to ensure that all their transactions were as easy to use as possible by the widest possible audience, in line with the government’s Digital Inclusion Strategy. It identified the level of skills required to complete its transactions in line with the digital inclusion scale. For example the DVLA’s View driving licence service, which went live in October, was rated as requiring level 7 (basic) digital skills to complete.

DVLA organised local community activity through regular events to promote the benefits of going online to local organisations.

Planned Activities in 2015

DfT will continue to work with its agencies to embed digital inclusion into working practices. It will ensure that the department and its agencies build digital inclusion into broader policymaking.

Department for Work and Pensions

Progress during 2014

The Digital Deal, a digital inclusion initiative in partnership with the Tinder Foundation and supporting the work of Go ON UK, was completed in May 2014. It aimed to encourage social landlords to design and deliver pilot projects that help their tenants get online, and built some good and replicable partnerships with Jobcentre plus and the communities themselves.

The Digital Deal is part of the wider programme developed by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to:

  • support customers in using the internet
  • increase customer confidence in claiming and managing Universal Credit
  • develop greater digital capabilities within the Jobcentre Plus network

Planned activities in 2015

DWP will continue to ensure digital inclusion is incorporated as it develops its policies and services, and will continue to collaborate with partners across the public, private, and voluntary sectors to help more people get online.

Department of Energy and Climate Change

Progress during 2014

Digital inclusion is embedded in individual digital projects. For example, in the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund users are first directed to the website, then helped to use it by the scheme’s administrators.

Planned activities in 2015

DECC will use their Consumer First programme to ensure that digital inclusion is embedded into future policymaking. The programme will do this by using:

  • its external consumer testing panel, which quickly tests policy ideas, services and messaging
  • the scrutiny of its investment committee, which challenges the consumer evidence of all policies that come before it
  • its consumer eEngagement team, an advisory team of consumer experts, which supports policy teams in using engagement tools and techniques

Department of Health

Progress during 2014

Department of Health (DH) is an active member of the Digital Inclusion subgroup and works closely with GDS and Open Government Data to further this agenda.

DH encouraged digital inclusion work amongst its ALBs. For example, NHS England, whose ongoing training programme to teach citizens to use the internet to manage their own care (the Widening Digital Participation programme) is continuing at pace. Around 36,000 people were trained and a new training module focusing on health transactions was released.

Planned activities in 2015

DH’s digital team will work with DH’s learning and development teams, as well as heads of profession and directors across the department, to support all staff members to reach level 7 on the digital inclusion scale during 2015. Currently, only 17% of staff self-report that they reach this standard.

DH will complete an audit of the department’s services, mapping user skills and the skills required to complete these services against the digital inclusion scale, so it can better identify users’ digital inclusion or support needs.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Progress during 2014

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has started to examine the digital inclusion challenges relevant to its services.

FCO’s offices provide access to digital services in areas where internet connectivity is poor.

Planned activities in 2015

FCO will continue to consider digital inclusion issues as it implements new approaches to assisted digital and increasing digital take up.

HM Revenue and Customs

Progress during 2014

HMRC provided funding to help the digital inclusion team at GDS undertake cross-departmental research to further understand demographics, needs and characteristics across the UK. In the summer the department published its digital inclusion model which is aligned to GDS’s approach.

HMRC started a small scale pilot, iCharities, to test digital services for organisations who want to be recognised as a charity for tax purposes.

Planned activities in 2015

HMRC will use feedback to improve the iCharities service before making it available to all new charities.

HMRC will further develop its digital inclusion plan, building on the inclusion activities already underway such as Code Club, Get Online campaigns and Girls in IT. It will continue working with policymakers to ensure digital inclusion is incorporated into policymaking.

HM Treasury

Progress during 2014

HM Treasury (HMT) has continued to support the cross-government work on digital inclusion.

Planned activities in 2015

HMT will continue to support the cross-government work on digital inclusion. Policy teams are encouraged to consider digital inclusion at the early stages of the policy development process.

Home Office

Progress during 2014

Home Office is committed to supporting GDS and Go ON UK’s mission and is working towards digital inclusion objectives.

Planned activities in 2015

Home Office will seek opportunities to build digital inclusion into wider policymaking and will include this issue within the advice it provides to its policy teams.

Ministry of Defence

Progress during 2014

Ministry of Defence (MOD) is investigating whether partner organisations can assist service personnel, families or veterans who do not have the skills or access to use digital services.

Planned activities in 2015

MOD will continue to investigate whether partner organisations can assist service personnel, families or veterans who do not have the skills or access to use digital services.

Ministry of Justice

Progress during 2014

Ministry of Justice (MOJ) helped people get online through talk-through digital inclusion services available on prison visits booking and civil claims. It planned them for employment tribunal applications. These services were made accessible over the phone to improve users’ online confidence in digital services. After talking through the service, digital inclusion service scripts directed users to third party services to improve their skills long term. This was done even in cases where the service is unlikely to be repeated and so MOJ was unlikely to see a direct return from this action. This contributes to improving lifelong digital inclusion for all who use its services. MOJ shared its scripts with other government departments.

National Offender Management Service worked with BIS to create a virtual campus to help prisoners develop the skills they need to become more employable in an increasingly digital world.

Planned activities in 2015

MOJ Digital Services will work with cross government groups and third parties to generate awareness of the services it is implementing for the benefit of the public. This will ensure that more people are aware that government services are now being provided digitally to encourage digital participation.