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Closing the net on Welsh digital divides
The Welsh Government made available today (Tuesday 23 August) all of the data it holds on people who use the internet including factors such as their ages and where they live.
Coinciding with the publication of the report, the Minister for Finance and Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, has announced the launch of a forum intended to encourage a continual increase in the number of internet users in Wales.
It will be launched today in collaboration with Communities 2.0.
The forum, which will be available through the Digital Inclusion Wales website, will attract users from all over the private, public and third sectors with an interest in the subject, to join and discuss ways to encourage and enable more people to get online.
The "Stakeholder's Forum" will include the discussion of in depth data which has explored Welsh internet usage in great detail, providing a unique insight and understanding of the issues here in Wales. Older or disabled people, the unemployed, individuals living in deprived areas or in social housing and those with lower educational attainment were more likely to be digitally disengaged.
In 2010, Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, seven out of ten of the adult population were internet users. The usage levels were lower in Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf where rates were around six out of ten.
Ongoing research has found there are many negative consequences to not having personal access to the internet. These include being disadvantaged while seeking employment through lack of access to opportunities, and being excluded from quick access to educational information.
It is also widely accepted that the digitally included can better communicate and keep in touch with other people through email and social networking sites, and emerging evidence suggests internet users feel less lonely and their personal wellbeing is enhanced.
Ms Hutt said: "As Minister with responsibility for Digital Inclusion, I am committed to ensuring that we do all we can to help people get most benefit from the internet, and from using digital technologies.
"The digital inclusion agenda is an increasingly important one as individuals who do not use the internet are likely to become increasingly economically and socially excluded."