One in ten people never use the internet: does it matter?

The government is keen that everyone is forced online - but should we just leave people alone if they'd rather not?

One in ten never go online

Over 11 million people in the UK lack the skills they need to go online, while just under one in ten adults say they never use the internet. Almost two thirds of them say there's nothing in the world that would tempt them to give it a go.

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The figures, from Lloyds Bank, found that the problem was most acute among older people, because only 49% of those over the age of 65 have basic digital skills - compared to 97% of those aged 15-24.

The researchers said that the number of people with no digital skills was gradually falling, but those who are not already going online have less interest in learning how to than ever before. Again older people are less likely to be persuaded online - 74% of the over 60s who don't use the internet say nothing would tempt them to do so.

Is this so bad?

As far as these groups are concerned, there are some very sound arguments for steering clear. There's a fear surrounding the internet, and reports of email scams, malware and phishing attempts help to stoke this fear, so that the potential risks of using the internet seem too serious to risk.

At the same time, those who have no internet access don't believe they are missing out. Some 73% of those who are offline say they don't believe they could save money by going online.

There's so much to lose and so little to gain, why would they bother?

The cost?

Unfortunately, there is a real cost associated with staying offline. For everything from booking travel to buying insurance, the best deals are reserved for those who buy over the internet. Even where companies offer good deals across the board, shopping around is so much harder that there's a real chance people miss out on the most competitive deals.

The Lloyds research also found that people who are able to bank online are also more likely to save for the future. This is partly because it's so much easier to organise your finances when you can see everything in one place.

And while things are difficult now for those who want to handle money matters in the real world, they are going to get even harder. The widespread closures of banks mean that over time local branches will disappear entirely, leaving those without an internet connection stranded.

It's one reason why the government is so keen to break down people's aversion to the internet, and get everyone online. Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "We want everyone to have the skills and confidence they need to benefit from the digital revolution, with nobody left behind. That is why improving digital skills is at the heart of the Government's new Digital Strategy - from free training in core skills for adults, through to a new Digital Skills Partnership bringing together everyone with a passion for tackling the digital skills gap."

But what do you think? Should everyone be dragged kicking and screaming to the internet, or should people be allowed to make their own choices, and steer clear if they'd rather? Let us know in the comments.

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