Addressing the digital divide across Greater Manchester
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “If Greater Manchester is truly going to be a world leading digital city region, we have to make a big commitment to fix the digital divide, the consequences of not doing so are severe – with our people at risk of further social isolation, lack of equal opportunities and not being able to access support. We are ensuring that everyone in Greater Manchester, whatever their age, location or situation, can benefit from the opportunities digital brings. Now is the time where Greater Manchester can lead the way in achieving an ambition that we should all strive for country wide”.
The issue of digital exclusion
A report produced by The Good Things Foundation and Liverpool University in 2020 suggests that levels of digital exclusion is much worse than previously thought. As many as 1.2m residents in Greater Manchester could be excluded in some way to access the benefits digital brings.
A lack of digital access and skills can have huge negative impact on a person’s life, leading to increased loneliness and social isolation, less access to jobs and education, which both in turn are associated with poorer health outcomes and a lower life expectancy and financial exclusion.
Read Greater Manchester Combined Authority paper on Cost of Living and Economic Resilience, which references some elements of our digital response.
Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda- collaborating to fix the digital divide
In October 2020 the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda was launched, with a bold ambition to make Greater Manchester a 100% digitally-enabled city region.
A Digital Inclusion Taskforce and Digital Inclusion Action Network were set up as part of the agenda to bring together organisations from across Greater Manchester to tackle the issue.
The Digital Inclusion Taskforce which now has over 250 members brings together industry, VCSE sector, public sector partners, local government, schools and health to fix the digital divide across Greater Manchester.
The Taskforce works in collaboration to focus and shape action to address the interrelated barriers to digital inclusion and the digital divide such as connectivity, accessibility, affordability, skills, motivation and confidence.
Following his re-election in May 2021, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, announced ambitions for Greater Manchester to become one of the first city-regions in the world to equip all under-25s, over-75s and disabled people with the skills, connectivity and technology to get online.
As part of his reinforced commitment to get residents online, Andy Burnham established a Digital Inclusion Action Network. The Digital Inclusion Action Network will lead targeted action to combat digital exclusion with a specific focus on supporting under-25s, over-75s and disabled people in Greater Manchester.
The action network will shape the outcomes and areas of focus for the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce and will enable the Mayor to work in collaboration with businesses, local authorities, schools, voluntary and charitable organisations to drive forward this ambition.
The Greater Manchester’s Digital Champions Network will bring together industry, communities, local authorities and public sector volunteers to support digital skills and literacy for individuals and community-focussed organisations across the region. The network is an opportunity to share best practices, discuss learnings and develop a network of skilled support across every borough in the region.
Why digital inclusion matters
Below, you'll also find some of the ways Greater Manchester is addressing the digital divide, including digital inclusion support in each local authority area, as well as news and updates as we progress on our mission to become a 100% digitally enabled city region.
Social Impact Report 2022: fixing the digital divide
The first annual Social Impact Report of Greater Manchester’s digital inclusion work
Get Online Greater Manchester
Here to help Greater Manchester residents get online & build digital skills
Digital Skills Map launched in Greater Manchester helping residents to get online & building skills