Getting UK online could boost economy by £22 billion

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Getting everyone in the UK online will boost the economy by 22 billion.

This is according to a new report from the UK's champion for digital inclusion, Martha Lane Fox.

The poorest people in the country are missing out on 1 billion in savings by not being online, the report found. Such digitally excluded households miss savings of 560 annually, while their 1.6 million children are missing out on 10.8 billion in potential earnings in their lifetimes, the report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers said.

Lane Fox said: "It's often the people facing the toughest times who have the most to gain from what technology has to offer and as the internet is rapidly becoming a tool for everyday life, we should work together to make sure everyone can benefit."

Getting unemployed people online could boost their earnings by 12,000, while if just five per cent of those who are unemployed and offline could find work using a jobs site, it could add 560 million to the economy. The government could save 900 million a year if all digitally excluded people got online, the study showed.

The cost savings and earning boost combine to add 22 billion to the UK economy, the report said.

Of the 10 million UK adults who have never used the internet, four million are excluded socially. Some 39 per cent are over 65, while 38 per cent are unemployed. Another fifth have children.

Lane Fox called for help getting those four million online in the next three years. "We want to show there is both a moral and economic imperative for the wider community to take the issue of digital inclusion much more seriously," she said in a statement.

"With a focus on peer-to-peer training, creative partnerships with private companies and replication of the best public sector projects we believe we can achieve a more digitally included society by 2012," she added.