NEARLY half of the UK’s over-65s struggle with the internet – leaving them at risk and shut out of vital services.
A startling new study estimates that up to SIX MILLION people aged 65 and over either lack the digital knowledge to use the internet safely and successfully, or are not online at all.
Age UK, who carried out the research, said the headlong rush towards “digital by default” is excluding older people from essential public services – including some for which they are the target audience and principal users.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The fact that so many millions of older people are unable to participate safely and successfully online is an inconvenient truth and one we must confront and act on as a society.
“If we don’t, we are essentially saying it’s ok for legions of older people not to be able to do ordinary things like book a medical appointment, organise a blue badge for their car or pay to park it, and surely that is totally unacceptable.”
A total of 2.7million over-65s in the UK do not use the internet at all, equivalent to around one in five of this age group.
Of those, half a million live in Merseyside and Cheshire, with 300,000 across the Liverpool City region.
In response to the charity’s findings, Age UK has launched a new campaign, #OfflineandOverlooked, designed to persuade the Government to ensure everyone is able to choose to access and use public services offline – by phone, letter or face-to-face as appropriate – rather than constantly being forced down a digital route.
The charity says this would end the discrimination against millions of older people who are not online or digitally savvy.
Ms Abrahams said: “We should be using digital tech to expand choice for people, not restrict it, but unfortunately the statistics mean ‘digital by default’ hard wires discrimination against our older population.”