Digital and financial inclusion key to battling poverty premium, says We Are Digital

All comments to be attributed to Matthew Adam, chief executive of digital and financial inclusion support provider We Are Digital.

“Earlier this month (08 February), energy watchdog Ofgem announced that it would be raising its maximum price cap by 5.5%. The proposals, which could come into force as early as next year, are likely to be worrying news for some of Britain’s most vulnerable families. Indeed, it is estimated that five million low-income households across the UK could see their energy bills increase by £57 per annum – a sharp spike for an already costly necessity at a time when as many as one in 10 households are living in fuel poverty.”

“This issue is particularly prevalent among families who do not use the internet. According to recent government estimates, predominantly offline households spend an average of £560 more per year on shopping and utility bills, compared to families which use the internet to shop around for better deals.”

“With these renewed price hikes, those living in social housing are most likely to be affected. According to a study carried out by the Royal Geographical Society, 4.1 million adults residing in some form of social housing have never used the internet. Not only is this digital divide creating a very-real skills gap for individuals, with as many as 90% of jobs now require some form of computer use, it’s also causing families to miss out on significant saving opportunities.”

“Digital and financial skills training is imperative in tackling the poverty premium. For many offline families, the cost of essential goods and services can be astronomical, and, without the resources necessary to ‘shop around’ for better deals, many households can be left paying inordinately costly tariffs.”

“One of the core objectives of digital and financial inclusion training is to encourage tenants to manage their money more effectively. Arming individuals with the knowledge and confidence they need to get the best deal from their utility provider can make a real difference to the bottom line.”

“It’s crucial housing associations act now to ensure their tenants are equipped with all of the skills needed to combat the poverty premium and aren’t left behind by the digital divide.”