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£15m to Help 23000 Low Income Scottish Households Get Online

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020 (2:01 pm) - Score 439
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The Scottish Government has, as part of the wider Connecting Scotland programme, today put £15m toward helping a further 23,000 low income households, specifically those without proper broadband internet access, to get online. The extra funding will prioritise disadvantaged families with children and young people leaving care.

The original £5m Phase 1 (April – July 2020) programme focused on those (c.9,000 households) who were at risk of isolation due to coronavirus because they were in the extremely high vulnerability group (‘shielding’) or the higher risk of severe illness group. The investment helped to provide iPads, Chromebooks and support to develop digital skills for people who were digitally excluded and on low incomes.

By comparison the new £15m Phase 2 is focused upon households with children, or where a child is normally resident (this includes pregnant women with no child in the household) and care leavers up to the age of 26 (in line with eligibility for aftercare support). Related families will get a device (as above), as well as 12 months “unlimited data” and technical support to get online safely and securely.

Households will also be linked with a “Digital Champion” who will provide 6 months of training and support over the phone. Suitable recipients will be identified by local authorities and third sector organisations who apply to the programme on behalf of those they support.

NOTE: Aside from individuals, public sector and voluntary organisations can also apply up to the 5th October for kit and connectivity to help the people they support.

Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Communities Secretary, said:

“It has never been more important to be connected and online. It enables us to access information about how to stay safe and healthy during Covid-19, keep in touch with friends and family, and study or work.

I am therefore very pleased to be able to extend our Connecting Scotland programme and tackle the digital divide by reaching over 30,000 households across both phases that are experiencing difficulties with online access.

An additional £15 million will help thousands of families and young care leavers who could not otherwise afford to get online, making sure they are not further disadvantaged by providing the necessary hardware, data, and skills they need to get connected.

This builds on £25m investment in devices and connectivity which will support around 70,000 school pupils.”

However, what today’s announcement doesn’t include is any information on the take-up of their existing scheme. We should point out that there’s also a separate Scottish Government scheme to provide 25,000 laptops or tablets, with internet access, for disadvantaged pupils to support learning outside school when they return in August (details here).

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