Broadband Must be Affordable for Poor

A body representing councils in England and Wales has said the poorest people in society should be given help to pay for fast broadband.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the government to include a social tariff in its universal service obligation for broadband.

It said the subsidy would give low-income families a basic service of at least 10Mbps.According to an LGA report, one in four adults lack basic online skills.

The body does not specify what price should be set for affordable broadband but pointed to an existing scheme offered by BT.

The LGA wants to see other providers offering similar schemes but doesn’t specify whether the government should also contribute.

Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places board, councillor Mark Hawthorne, said: "Good digital connectivity is a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help them cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, access their bank accounts and even run their own businesses.

"Many government services are going digital by default, and we need to be able to ensure that the most vulnerable and least well-off can afford to use them."

Charity director at Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, said: "With one in seven pensioners living in poverty, the cost of getting online is already prohibitive for many, leaving some older people feeling priced out of the digital world." 

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