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Difference between revisions of "Impact of digital technologies on social protection and human rights"

In 2016 the UN declared access to broadband to be a basic right. Without internet access in the home individuals have limited access to public services, channels for civic and democratic participation, knowledge and information tools, opportunities for social engagement, the labour market, and learning opportunities. Despite this, many individuals and households in Scotland and the UK cannot afford the devices and connections needed to benefit from the advantages the internet offers.
 
Home internet access varies considerably by household income. In 2017, 66% of households in Scotland with an income of £15,000 or less had home internet access rising to 99% in households with incomes over £40,000 (Scottish Household Survey, 2017). Additionally, only 71% of social housing tenants have home internet access, compared to 90% of home owners and 88% of private rented tenants. Older people, those with disabilities, and those in social housing or on low incomes are all more likely to be digitally excluded. While there is limited gender-disaggregated data for barriers to internet access in Scotland, [https://www.engender.org.uk/ Engender] highlight that there is a clear correlation between low online participation and other areas of deprivation which are highly gendered. Women, for example, are the majority of older people, working-age people living in poverty, and lone parents. Women are also twice as dependent on social security as men, with 20% of women’s income coming from the benefits and tax credit system, compared with 10% of men’s. The people and communities most likely to be supported by public services are therefore also those most likely to be digitally excluded. Despite this, both the UK and Scottish Government are increasingly moving services online. The Department for Work and Pensions, for example, planned for 80% of Universal Credit applications to be completed online by 2017 as part of a transition towards digital only services.
 
The digitalisation of public services can simplify and integrate services. However, public services must be accessible to all. The varied needs of public services users must be considered and supported by initiatives to ensure that everyone can use and access digital services. Equal access to digital services is essential to reducing inequalities, poverty, meeting the SDGs and fulfilling rights.
 
Moving forward he is at serious risk of falling through the benefits safety net. His lack of digital skills and the restrictions placed on him by his local Job Centre mean that he is struggling to engage with the DWP. After finally finding a home following years of homelessness, he is now, once again at risk of losing the secure roof over his head.
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==== Universal Credit, online security, and gender ====
Online security is also an issue for women experiencing domestic abuse. Engender highlights that the online management of Universal Credit allows both members of a couple to access information about payments, appointments and other personal details, this will be extremely dangerous for some women. The issue of security must be thoroughly explored from this angle to prevent any unintended consequences. Whilst mindful of this, women at an Engender focus groups felt that greater online flexibilities would be useful, especially with regards to reducing complexity and confusion. An online profile, which would only be accessible by the applicant, with all information in one place was proposed as a potentially useful tool.
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