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Last time we were here, we were battling the first wave of Omicron. Since then the world around us has dramatically changed: a war, an economic crisis, unprecedented political upheaval – just to name a few.

However, the undisputable role of digital remains. From accessing essential services to booking a holiday, being able to confidently and safely operate the digital world is vital. And now we have updated evidence of its economic significance too – making the case for investment into digital inclusion as a result.

Having a basic level of digital skills impacts our economy in all sorts of ways. Take productivity as an example. There is a wage premium associated with having digital skills, and employee earnings are mostly related to their productivity. Employers will therefore pay more for productive staff and benefit from their increased output. Ensuring all UK adults learn basic digital skills therefore leads to a positive macroeconomic impact for productivity, employability and earnings.

Given society’s continued digitisation, it’s unsurprising that the economic impacts of digital inclusion make for a long list – from the advantages of online retail to more easily accessing online services. Understanding the scale of these benefits should be critical for those making decisions about policy and investment, at a national, regional and local level.

That’s why Good Things Foundation – the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity – partnered with Capita and Cebr to assess the economic impact of digital inclusion, in their report The Economic Impact of Digital Inclusion in the UK launched earlier this year.

So, what does the report find? What are these so-called economic gains? 

The headline is that for every £1 invested in interventions to help digitally excluded people to build their basic digital skills, a return of £9.48 is gained throughout the economy. 

Savings to the public purse are significant. Through efficiency savings alone, the Government is estimated to benefit by £1.4 billion over the next ten years, plus £483 million in increased tax revenue. The NHS is expected to save £899 million in addition.

A proportion of working-age adults still need digital skills support to gain work or better work. Meeting this need is estimated to generate £2.7 billion for organisations through filling basic digital skills vacancies over the coming decade. Furthermore, an estimated £586 million in increased earnings, £179 million in additional earnings from finding work, and £76 million in environmental benefits.

The cross-cutting, complex nature of digital inclusion requires a co-ordinated, well-funded and holistic approach to meaningful help those most excluded and to invigorate our economy. The most challenging stretch of the country’s digital inclusion journey lies ahead, and Good Things Foundation’s new strategic offer is ready to tackle it alongside others: working across sectors on our National Databank, National Device Bank and National Digital Inclusion Network initiatives.

If we are to achieve an inclusive recovery to Covid-19, combat the cost-of-living crisis, level up and ensure everyone can make the most of the digital world – we have to comprehend the economic advantages, step up, and invest in it.

The Good Things Foundation is a charity with the goal of fixing the digital divide. . Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue. [Image: John Schnobrich]