Free tablets for thousands of city region residents

More than 4,500 people in Liverpool city region will receive free tablets, internet access and on-line skills training in a new digital inclusion scheme. Tony McDonough reports

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More than 4,500 Liverpool city region residents will receive free tablets


A new digital inclusion scheme will see more than 4,500 people in Liverpool city region receive free tablets, internet access and on-line skills training.

Facilitated by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the project also involves Lloyds Bank and Vodafone. Participants will receive a free android tablet, along with in-person training on getting the most out of the internet, and six months of free data.

This is an industry-led programme designed to bridge the digital divide by driving digital skills, enhancing lives through better digital connectivity, and stimulating economic growth.

It will start with a pilot delivering tablets and training to 300 local people who are unemployed or economically inactive.

People will be referred on to the initial pilot from the Department of Work and Pensions Restart Scheme and the Ways to Work programme run by the six local authorities. The in-person digital inclusion group training sessions will be delivered by Lloyds digital trainers.

Over the next year, 4,750 tablets, training and mobile internet access will be provided to people who are digitally excluded across the city region.

It will involve partners across the community and voluntary sector, local authorities and other members of the recently launched Digital Inclusion Network – including Households into Work and Housing First.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Since I was elected Mayor, I’ve been on a mission to make our region the most digitally connected anywhere in the country.

“The last few years have accelerated the move towards a more digital world and proved how important connectivity and technology will be in all our lives.

“However, there are still too many people in our area who are excluded for a variety of reasons – and struggle to navigate through the digital world.

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“It’s our duty to properly connect our residents with this 21st century necessity and schemes like this will help us to directly target those who are most in need of our support.” 

Analysis by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute estimates that 324,590 city region working age residents are limited or non-users of the internet, while 30,560 households with school age children are offline or headed by limited users.

Catherine Rutter, group customer inclusion director at Lloyds Banking Group, added: “With our 2022 Consumer Digital Index showing that 28% of people in Liverpool city region have low digital skills, it is vital work to increase digital inclusion.”

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