‘Go home and do everything online’: Benefit claimants and online government services

Over the summer, the Digital Equality Group, a policy group co-ordinated by WaveLength, invited benefit claimants and support workers to fill in a questionnaire. This report shows that services are not always straightforward or convenient and those who can’t use digital services continue to be, or are increasingly excluded by the Digital By Default principle. We share these responses in a short paper, which we release today.

Benefit claimants and online government services
Click here, or on the image above, to read the DEG’s paper.

I have a sister who has a learning difficulty, can’t write properly & can’t use computers. How is she supposed to manage in a digital welfare system & 

I was a lone voice asking what people without access to broadband were supposed to do. They were so excited about the potential & didn’t want to answer. An inefficient service does not become efficient through being online.

These are just some of the responses we received, which show the difficulties people have faced when using websites to access government services. They support the growing body of evidence across the UK that Digital By Default services are in many cases not living up to the aspirations of the 2013 strategy.

Following this research, the DEG makes the following recommendations:

  1. There should always be non-digital options made clearly available in a range of formats to those who need or want them. 
  2. Government should recognise that the ‘default’ nature of digital services is continuing to exclude people and change its overarching principle from ‘Digital by Default’ to ‘Digital First’.
  3. The government should provide universal means-tested broadband to those who need it most.

If you would like to talk to us about our findings, or are interested in getting involved with the DEG, then call 01708 621101 or e-mail [email protected].