Digital Poverty in the UK: a review of literature

by Dr Hannah Holmes, Dr Katy Karampour and Dr Gemma Burgess

Number of pages


Digital Poverty is increasingly recognised as a key aspect of the broader disadvantage experienced by many people within the UK. It is understood to be characterised by any combination of limited access to suitable internet-enabled devices, difficulties accessing and securing a stable and reliable internet connection, low levels of digital skills and confidence, and a lack of motivation to use the internet. Experiences of digital poverty are variable, and individuals may experience different levels of digital exclusion over time. It is clear that being unable to get online – or to use the internet frequently and in ways which enable the user to take advantage of a range of online opportunities – has detrimental effects at both an individual and a societal level (see Robinson et al., 2015; Holmes and Burgess, 2020).

This report brings together a range of academic and grey literature on digital poverty in order to provide a useful resource for policy makers in local and central government, as well as the third sector, to draw on in their efforts to tackle digital exclusion. Indeed, if digital poverty is to be addressed successfully, it is crucial to understand the factors underlying the issue, the scale of the problem, who is affected, and the challenges which must be overcome.

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