Over 7 million Brits ‘have never been online’

New figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown that more than seven million adults in the UK have never been online.

The ONS said 43.5 million adults were now using the internet– up a million from this time last year.

However, currently 7.1 million people remain offline, and the elderly and disabled are the least likely to be connected.

Graham Walker, chief executive of Go On UK – a digital accessibility charity said: “It’s not just about access to the internet,”

“Sixteen million adults don’t have the basic online skills to confidently take advantage of digital tools.”

He added the numbers were ‘encouraging’ but more work was needed.

The data was based on responses to the question: ‘When did you last use the internet?’. The statistics found that London has the highest rate of internet users (90%) while Northern Ireland has the lowest (79%). When the stats are broken down by age, the figures suggest almost all – 99% – of 16 to 24 year olds use the internet.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, those ages 75 or above are the most disconnected. There were promising signs for this age group though. In 2011, 23.8% of all over 75s had accessed the internet, compared with 34.3% now – this is an increase of 1.6 million people.

However, the ONS also stated the figures relating to the elderly were taken from a smaller sample group, and are reflective of that.

Michelle Mitchell, director general at Age UK said: “The internet offers huge benefits to people in later life so it is an extremely positive step in ensuring more people can profit from being online,”

“However, the key is not just getting people online for the first time but giving them the skills and knowledge to become confident using the internet.

“With more services heading online, with the aim of potentially saving the government millions, the government must invest in greater training to open up the web to all.”

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