Rural Development Plan – Digital Inclusion
We welcome the inclusion of investment in ICT, particularly digital inclusion, as a key area for intervention in tackling poverty and supporting communities through the Rural Development Plan. Digital inclusion is an important tool in tackling poverty. ICT is an essential skill for accessing benefits and benefit advice, when seeking work and also in reducing social isolation. Digitally excluded individuals often find themselves as financially excluded as a result.
For people living in rural areas, particularly those with poor public transport infrastructure, digital inclusion can reduce isolation and social exclusion. In areas where it is difficult to access services, digital inclusion offers the opportunity for equitable access to services and to online and distance learning.
For example, Cantref Housing Association have support from Communities 2.0 to deliver the ‘On your Doorstep’ initiative. This provides a digital outreach vehicle with internet access to visit Cantref’s 35 housing estates. Since May 2012, they have engaged with 270 tenants across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, North Pembrokeshire and Machynlleth. The scheme allows staff to provide information and support to tenants but it also allows tenants to receive support in getting online.