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Big Lottery Fund to unveil £15m for digital skills at Go ON UK summit

Prime Minister David Cameron calls for more organisations to support Go ON UK’s ambition to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.

The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), as part of its commitment to help charity Go ON UK eliminate the digital divide, is announcing an investment of up to £15 million to build the skills that people and organisations across the UK will need in order to take full advantage of support and services available online.

There are 16 million people in the UK who currently lack the basic online skills to confidently make full use of digital tools available to them and 7.4 million people who have never been online. 

BIG is developing the funding programme with Go ON UK who on Monday 13 May will gather senior UK digital leaders together at the Go ON UK Digital Skills CEO Summit and challenge them to commit their organisations to play their part in making the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.

BIG’s programme, which is still under development, will be open for applications in the autumn and BIG expects to fund a very small number of UK-wide projects focussing on communities most in need. BIG is announcing the programme now to give potential applicants the time to consider the sort of partnerships that they will need to be put in place to meet the challenge of raising digital skills across the UK.

BIG aims to build on the huge success of the Go ON Liverpool cross-sector partnership, which included £100,000 of funding from BIG and helped reduce the numbers offline in the city by 55 per cent in just 18 months.

Announcing plans to ‘supercharge’ existing local activity and adapt the Go ON Liverpool blueprint by making digital skills a regional priority, Go ON UK Chair, Baroness Lane-Fox will also today unveil plans to kick start the Go ON UK digital skills delivery strategy in the North East of England in October.

Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “BIG has £15 million available to the organisations who can demonstrate most convincingly to us how they will use the cash to turn the disconnected and disinterested into confident users of online services.

“We are alerting people now so potential applicants can develop the strongest and most convincing partnerships and plans that they can. We expect to fund only a handful of significant projects, so competition will be intense.

Baroness Lane-Fox, Chair Go ON UK, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s digital skills investment helps us deliver on Go ON UK’s objective to secure vital investment to build the digital skills of people and organisations across the UK. But we need other organisations to play their part and follow suit.

“The UK has built strong digital foundations – reliable infrastructure and high quality services are key components of the UK’s digital economy, which accounts for over 8% of GDP – a greater proportion than any other G20 country. However, as the benefits accrue to those who are online, those without basic online skills are left further and further behind and won’t see the full benefits of our current network – let alone the next generation.

“Following the success of Go ON Liverpool, this year Go ON UK and its Founder Partners -Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk - will aim to supercharge the activity of local partners and help improve basic online skills in the North East of England. We are confident we will be able to provide further evidence of the impact of partnership working to drive up digital skills and build a replicable partnership model that we can the roll out across the nation over the next 18 months”

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “If we are to succeed in the global race, it is vital that we ensure our people and businesses recognise the opportunities that the web offers, and have world-class digital skills. That is why this Government is supporting Go ON's ambition to make the UK the world's most digitally skilled nation.
"We are investing around £1 billion in our digital infrastructure to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to fast, reliable broadband. These changes will reinforce the UK’s position as a leading digital economy and will help to create local jobs and national growth.”

For more information on BIG's programme, please visit our 
Digital Skills page.

Read Peter Wanless blog about BIG's £15 million investment

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:
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Tara Maynard
Office: 020 7440 5700 | Mobile: 07921 337 162
Tweeting at @Go_ON_UK

Notes to Editors

  • 7.4 million of UK adults (15 per cent) have never used a computer or the internet.ONS Internet Access 2012 - Households and Individuals, published February 2013.
  • The 16M figure was arrived at following further analysis by Ipsos MORI of the data from the BBC/Ipsos MORI research Understanding Digital Capabilities from July 2012.  This analysis concluded that approx. 35.4m, 69% of UK Adult population can complete all four activities and approx. 16.0m, 31% of UK Adult population could not. Ipsos MORI’s analysis of the demographic data for the 16M respondents who could not currently complete all four activities established that 21% are in full-time employment and 7% are in part-time employment. 29% (due to rounding) of 16M = 4.64M.
  • 35 per cent of young people not in education, employment or training ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ look for jobs online and 17 per cent would not apply for jobs that require basic computer skills. Princes Trust Digital Literacy Survey 2013.
  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004 BIG has awarded over £6bn.
  • The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • Go ON UK is a cross-sector charity which was established in 2012 to encourage and support people, business and charities to enjoy the benefits of being online. Go ON UK has eight chief executives around its boardroom table – Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk. Together, Go ON UK’s vision is to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.
  • Go ON Liverpool was a national and local cross-sector partnership campaign. In June 2011, 29% of adults (104,000 people) in Liverpool had never been online, compared with 17% nationally.  In 18 months, the Go ON UK Liverpool campaign led to a 55% reduction in adults in the city who had never gone online, and Liverpool had 43,000 new internet users (ONS Household Survey).  This compared to a 13% drop nationally. The campaign had political, business and community support: all 90 local councillors backed it, 80 local partners supported it, each promoting a specific, targeted benefit message appropriate and meaningful to the local people and businesses they reached. On the ground 1,500 digital champions were recruited to deliver the message and provide training.

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