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

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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.
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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 deg@wavelength.org.uk.  

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6 Responses to “‘Go home and do everything online’: Benefit claimants and online government services”

  1. Cheryl Thorne

    My local surgery has just initiated a system where patients are able to make walk in or online appointments. There is no telephone option. I am housebound, living in an outlying village with very poor signal. I need 2 taxi return journeys to make and keep and appointment. The system fails me badly.

  2. Michael PERRY

    the latest FAD is all about Broadband. Many older less able can not or do not want this. However many coastal & hilly or remote regions CAN NOT RECEIVE A CONSTANT STRONG ENOUGH TERESTRIAL SIGNAL FOR RADIO &/OR TELEVISION . Why are they being completely forgotten about? Lets fix the older systems first or at least as well as. We can not all afford the high prices charges of ‘SKY Tv’ or fitting ‘FREESAT’ receivers and in many instances high rental fees.

  3. I’ve just had to complete a PIP form (transferring over from DLA). Not only is the form not able to be filled in online/by downloading a copy (which would be easier for me), the only way to contact them was by phone and I cannot hear on the phone and don’t have a textphone! For a disability department, I was disgusted. It took me over two months to fill in the forms, and has caused my mental health to worsen, something I DIDN’T need right now! Thanks DWP(!)

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