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Greater Manchester supported digital inclusion for 26,000 people last year

Annual social impact report reveals strong collaborative working to tackle digital exclusion at local and regional level.

As we’ve often reported before, with so much of our lives conducted online there’s a real danger that people without access to digital devices and computers can be left behind. Tackling the barriers to digital access isn’t easy. But a new report shows how Greater Manchester Combined Authority is making significant progress.

Digital inclusion roadmap across Greater Manchester, from GMCA Social Impact Report 2023

Digital inclusion roadmap across Greater Manchester, from GMCA Social Impact Report 2023

The region faces sizeable challenges. As many as 1.2m residents in the Greater Manchester region are either limited digital users or don’t use digital at all. Some 228,500 adults in the region lack consistent access to the internet while 32% of adults experience some form of digital exclusion. Issues identified include lack of basic skills and motivation, tools, and affordable internet access. The impact of this can be seen in reduced access to healthcare and public services, work, education and financial support.

The new report details some of the achievements of two key initiatives: the digital inclusion taskforce that comprises some 245 cross-sector organisations and the digital inclusion action network (DIAN) led by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

In 2023, some 26,000 residents in the combined authority region were supported through these initiatives. That support included everything from access to devices and assistive tech, help with connectivity and social tariffs, and development of digital skills. The existing ‘Get Online Greater Manchester’ project has grown, with additional features including a map and new guide for supporting disabled people, all produced in collaboration with the taskforce and DIAN. The aim is to empower residents to find the right digital support for their needs.

The report emphasises that the ‘digital inclusion leads’ across Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities are an important catalyst in such work having impact at a local level. The leads work with their own communities and colleagues from across the region on resources and leaning, as well as developing partnerships with industry and local partners that will help people get online.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, says: ‘We have come so far in our vision to build standards so that every resident in Greater Manchester, whatever their age, location or situation can benefit from the opportunity digital brings. As we plan to accelerate this impact, Greater Manchester steps into a new era for English devolution with greater control than ever before over the levers of economic prosperity, and the future is set to demonstrate levelling up in action.’

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