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Millions of older people being cut off by lack of basic internet skills

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Millions of older people being cut off by lack of basic internet skills

According to Age UK’s new report, Offline and Overlooked

More than 4.5 million people aged 65 and over are unable to complete the most fundamental tasks needed to use the internet successfully, a report from Age UK says.

The charity’s analysis warned it meant millions of older people could be left behind as more essential services – including healthcare, banking and utilities – move online.

Age UK’s new report, Offline and Overlooked, found that 4.7 million over-65s are unable to complete what are considered the eight key tasks to using the internet: being able to turn on devices, enter login details, use settings and controls, open applications, connect to WiFi, open internet browsers, keep passwords secure, and change passwords when prompted to do so.

And despite an increase in the number of older people going online in recent years, the charity said around one in six – equivalent to 2.3 million older people – did not use the internet at all.

Age UK is calling on all political parties – ahead of the general election expected this year – to commit to ensuring that all public services offer and promote an affordable, easy to access, offline way of reaching and using them.

It has already launched a petition calling for a stop to online being the only option to access services, which has surpassed 50,000 signatures.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “Many public as well as private service providers seem hell-bent on shifting their activities online but, as our new report shows, it’s clear that in doing so they are leaving fully one in three of the older population behind.

“In fact, the inconvenient truth is that many millions of people of all ages, especially older ones, are neither confident nor adept at using the internet, and want and need to continue to be able to transact their business in more traditional ways.

“The Government should step in and ensure that we can all choose to access and use public services offline – by phone, letter or face to face as appropriate – rather than forcing everyone down a digital route many of us are struggling to navigate, and some of us are unable to navigate at all.”

She added that digital exclusion was “severing” older people from the support they needed to stay “fit, well and independent”.

“Older people who are not internet users or digitally savvy tell us how cross and upset they are when the main access to crucial services like GP appointments and Blue Badge applications, moves to being online,” she said.

“As our new report shows, this often leaves them feeling disregarded and disempowered, and the consequences can be serious, severing them from the support they need to stay fit, well and independent.

“Age UK supports older people who want to go online to do so through a number of excellent digital programmes run by our local Age UKs, but the fact is that for a variety of reasons not everyone is able or willing to use the internet – particularly for more sophisticated tasks – and this will always be the case.

“Policy makers should stop fantasising about a digital-only world, come back down to earth and make sure older people can continue to access the services to which they are entitled – whether they use the internet or not.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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