One of London’s housing associations has launched a new digital inclusion programme with computer-training company Silver Training, to help residents use the internet and get online. London & Quadrant, which owns more than 70,000 properties in London and the South East, has invested £82,000 in its Digital 300 Project to provide 300 residents with computer skills, equipment and internet access for a year.
The project was set up to help residents use online services in the wake of the Government’s ‘digital by default’ strategy, which will see most government transaction services, including applying for Universal Credit, move online by 2015. Job seekers will also be required to search and apply for jobs online, which will be monitored and eventually replace fortnightly ‘signing on’.
A recent survey showed that out of 2243 L&Q residents more than 37 % had no access to the internet. More than 46% of the survey respondents with no access to the internet or computer skills are in receipt of benefits and regularly have to renew their benefit claims. It is believed that nationwide there are 4 million tenants in social housing who remain offline or without the skills to get online properly.
According to Matthew Adam, MD of Silver Training: “We are increasingly finding that many housing associations have a huge need to get their residents online and trained up with the right digital skills, given the wide-reaching welfare reforms. However many do not have the in-house expertise to roll out this training, which is where we can help. This contract with L&Q comes off the back of many others for us with social housing providers, which shows the level of demand that exists and the need to act fast.”
Graham Walker, CEO, Go ON UK commented: “It can be hard to imagine life without the web. Yet a staggering 11 million UK adults still don’t have the basic online skills to take advantage of its huge and varied benefits. That’s why it’s vital that housing providers such as L&Q provide opportunities to boost residents’ digital skills.”
Residents, eligible for the programme, will complete a five week training course at local UK Online Centres and once completed, will receive recycled computers together with 12 months free internet access. To make the project sustainable and reach more residents, L&Q is also calling on their peers in the social housing sector to take part in the project to increase the number of courses and widen the locations available to residents across London and the UK.