Exploring UK’s digital divide

4 Mar 2019

The UK Office for National Statistics published a report exploring the digital divide in the UK, examining the scale of digital exclusion and the impediments to digital inclusion. According to the report, Internet non-users in the UK are mostly adults over 65, disabled adults, and employees on long term sickness or disability leave. As for the main barriers to inclusion in households, 64% stated they did not need Internet, 20% did not have the skills to use it, and 2% had physical or senior disabilities. However, the percentage of Internet non-users has dropped since 2012 which narrowed the gap in regional Internet usage. While London remains the region with the lowest portion of Internet non-users (7%), Northern Ireland has the highest proportion (14.2%), followed by North-east England (12.1%). Additionally, the study notes that the Internet is increasingly used to interact with public authorities and services; particularly in obtaining information from websites, submitting and downloading official forms.

Explore the issues

The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.

The digital divide can be defined as a rift between those who, for technical, political, social, or economic reasons, have access and capabilities to use ICT/Internet, and those who do not. Various views have been put forward about the size and relevance of the digital divide.


The GIP Digital Watch observatory is provided by



and members of the GIP Steering Committee


GIP Digital Watch is operated by

Scroll to Top