Families with broadband can save £70 per month through online access to cheaper household goods and services, according to new research from the Post Office®, published today . Those who are online paint a picture of a ‘broad-bound’ society as 96 per cent consider internet access to be a lifestyle necessity they could not live without.
Yet one third of UK households are missing out on these savings, and the wider benefits, because they are still not online. A total of almost £4.5 billion of potential savings are being missed by non-web users each year, in what is a worrying effect of a deepening digital exclusion.
Broadband in the Home: An Analysis of the Financial Costs and Benefits was commissioned by Post Office® Telecoms to calculate, for the first time, the financial impact of the UK’s digital divide. Fear of the initial expense of getting a PC and internet connection , or fear of online fraud , is actually deepening the digital divide amongst those who could stand to benefit most from getting online.
Many non-liners still consider broadband a luxury they cannot afford, yet this report provides strong evidence to show:
•PC pays back: The initial outlay of buying a computer and getting set up online can be paid off through online savings within 18 months for the majority of households (80 per cent).
•Average saving of £840 per year: Typical savings made through online shopping total £840 per year for the average UK household, across a broad range of categories include utility bills, clothing, travel and home entertainment.
•A wider investment: Internet access opens doors to equally important social benefits from employment and education, to access to public services and communication tools. For example, jobs that use computers are typically better paid, while the rise of email, instant messaging and social networking means non-liners are at increasing risk of social, as well as digital, exclusion.
One year on from the launch of its broadband service, this research will inform the Post Office®’s continuing work to get the digitally excluded online by improving accessibility and transparency. For example, the Post Office® is the only broadband provider to offer a flat rate for customers who prefer to pre-pay in cash rather than by direct debit. There is high demand for this: 45 per cent of Post Office® broadband customers currently pay in cash.
Martin Moran, Post Office® head of telecoms, said: “The 9 million UK households that still don’t have an internet connection are missing out on huge savings. Many have the false impression that broadband is a luxury item but we are seeing how increasingly it is actually a money-saving utility – critical in times of economic uncertainty.”
“Many of the barriers to getting the digitally excluded online are exaggerated perceptions of costs or fear of online fraud. At the Post Office® we are continuing to play a role in making it easier for these people to get online. 84 per cent of our customers are new to broadband and half of these are completely new to the internet.”
Helen Milner is managing director of UK online centres, a network of centres helping help web-novices get to grips with ICT. She added: “What’s really alarming here is that those with most to gain from the internet are three times more likely to be the ones missing out on all its benefits. It’s not just about saving money – being online can also save people time and hassle, open up new doors and new worlds. The internet should be for everyone, and it’s vital we make sure everyone has equal access to it, plus the skills and confidence to use it effectively.”