No internet for a third of homes

Despite living in the so-called digital age, more than a third of UK households are still bereft of internet access, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.

As of this year, almost 16.5 million homes (65 per cent) are connected to the net, claims the ONS' Omnibus survey. While this is an increase of 1.23 million over 2007's figures, it still means that 35 per cent of UK homes are missing out.

This potentially has wider implications than just not being able to access Facebook or surf the web as it seriously inhibits the pool of customers for online businesses or those offering web-based self-service methods of customer interaction.

Perhaps more worryingly is the issue of age. Those aged 65 and older are still less likely to use the net than everyone else, with 70 per cent claiming they've never used it, according to the ONS.

When it comes to silver surfers or lack of them - David Sinclair, head of policy for Help the Aged, argues it's time for the government and industry to act.

"This is not only about getting cheap car insurance online. It is about equality in the marketplace. We know internet access can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds over the year from deals on utility bills, food to all other manner of other goods. In a time when costs are rising should we not allow the poorest among us a chance to keep afloat?" he said.

"The government must make older people a central aspect of the digital equalities strategy expected this autumn," he added, citing a recent Help the Aged study that found a fifth of older people were keen to learn more about the web and new technology.

Sinclair concluded: "It is time for industry to deliver more accessible and usable technologies, which will allow them access to a huge market. The government needs to invest in education and access to hardware, or see a technological divide enforcing these economic inequalities."

Of those hooked up to the net, 86 per cent are taking advantage of broadband connectivity.

South Eastern dwellers are more likely to be net-connected, while their North Eastern cousins are least likely to be online, according to the statistics.

"The most common response, when adults were asked why their household did not have an internet connection, was that they did not need it (34 per cent)," stated the ONS in a statement releasing the figures.

"The last time adults were asked why they did not have an internet connection was in 2006. Since then, while overall numbers are down, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of adults who stated they did not want the internet, from 3 per cent in 2006 to 24 per cent in 2008."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.