Written by Moira Thomas, Group Director of Sustainable Business, Currys plc
May 31, 2022
Over the last few months, the mounting pressures from the cost-of-living crisis has seen rising inflation affect millions of homes across the UK. There has never been a more pressing time to support those who need it the most and to reaffirm our end goal in eradicating digital poverty.
According to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in March 2022, the cost-of-living reached its highest recorded level since 19921 with consumer goods and energy pushing inflation higher than experts had predicted. There’s no doubt that affordability for appliances and necessities will impact households for the foreseeable. But without access to technology and connectivity, more and more families will have less opportunities for jobs and education and ultimately feel the bite of financial exclusion as goods and services become increasingly expensive.
Digital poverty – defined as the inability to interact with the online world fully, when where and how an individual needs to - simply should not still be an issue in today’s connected world. As everyone and everything we do becomes more digitally dependent, it threatens to exclude those that remain disconnected. Yet approximately one quarter of vulnerable children in the UK do not have access to a suitable device for learning, and 70 per cent of households earning less than £17.5k only have basic digital skills.
The Tech4Teachers scheme, piloted back in April 2021 has helped 1,000 teachers and teaching assistants with essential tech to deliver the high-quality home schooling to 30,000 disadvantaged pupils needed throughout the pandemic. Thanks to the effortless work from the Learning Foundation and the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA), we’ve been able to help thousands of students in education be better supported to reach their full potential. With the pilot a great success, we are delighted that Barclays and Intel are taking on the challenge in continuing to support teachers with 550 devices, through new funding. And we’re looking forward to a white paper with policy recommendations being shared with the Department for Education later this year.
So what’s next for Currys and the DPA?
We’ve selected the Digital Poverty Alliance as our new in-store UK Pennies donation partner, we are giving our customers nationwide the chance to donate 25p to charity when paying by card or digital wallet. Though these digital micro-donations, help will be given to families in need through the donation of devices and internet connectivity. Our initial focus is across areas disproportionately affected by the digital divide, including communities across North Norfolk, West Cumbria, Staffordshire, Ayrshire and Port Talbot and Bridgend.
At Currys our mission is to help everyone enjoy amazing technology and we want to be a force for good where it matters the most. That’s why as the UK’s number one technology retailer, we’re proud to be partnered with the Digital Poverty Alliance to make a real impact to thousands of families across the UK as part of our shared goal to eradicate digital poverty.
To find out more on our DPA and Pennies launch, you can read on here: https://bit.ly/3l2ZLUF
To make a donation visit us in store, or donate online at https://digitalpovertyalliance.org/donate/
1(Consumer price inflation, UK - Office for National Statistics, 2022) Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/latest [Accessed 28 April 2022].