back to article Official: More than 7 million Brits have NEVER accessed the interwebs

Brits who are disabled, over the age of 75 or poor are among the vast majority of people living in the UK who make up more than 7 million citizens found to have never been online, official government figures show. People over the age of 75 are - perhaps unsurprisingly - the age group least likely to have ever accessed the …


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  1. Ole Juul

    Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

    People over 75 often don't feel they need it. Yes, I'm getting older so I talk with these people. I also notice that disabled people are often hooked on drugs or TV, or both. Again, there is no perceived need to join the world of communication. My prediction is that the first group will change as they get replaced with people who learnt at an earlier age, and the second group stay roughly the same. More poor and/or disabled people will "get it", but the group will grow in size.

    I'm in both groups, but have kept up with computers since before the PC. I also refuse to get involved with things like drugs and TV (I don't know which is worse). The internet is perfect for someone like me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One less

      One less now that my dad, 75 has taken delivery of his new ipad. This is surprising as he considers telephones as the devils work.

    2. frank ly

      Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

      "... disabled people are often hooked on drugs ...."

      Do you mean 'dependent on strong prescription medication', or do you mean 'addicted to illegal drugs'? If the latter then that is very worrying. If your 'local' experience is in fact common, then this is a tragedy.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

        No, I didn't mean 'dependent on strong prescription medication', but that is probably also a problem. I am not generalizing or putting down any group. In Canadian cities we have large populations of people without homes. They are mostly "disabled" and mostly addicted. The two often go hand-in-hand. I have current local rural experience of this, and yes, it is a tragedy. I also have city and personal experience, and I can confirm that it is a National tragedy as well. Another tragedy is that the drug/disability situation is mostly ignored by the government.

    3. Gert Leboski

      Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

      I work in the disabilities sector and find the reference to disabled people being hooked on drugs, prescription or otherwise, so be a crass over-generalisation. Care to elaborate?

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

        I work in the disabilities sector and find the reference to disabled people being hooked on drugs, prescription or otherwise, so be a crass over-generalisation. Care to elaborate?

        If you work in the field, it must be an isolated branch. I'm sorry if you find my sensibilities "crass". What kind of elaboration you want?

        These are people with which I have a tremendous amount of empathy. I've personally lived with a number of drug addicts, have had problems of my own, and spend considerable time with the group of which I speak. In Canada it is a very large group and mostly uncounted because they only show up to collect a cheque, or to get food. I have been closely connected with these people and have only the greatest respect and empathy. I'm not trying to "over-generalize" at all.

        I am personally disabled, and know only too well the connection with alcohol and other drugs that can so easily ensue. I don't know what kind of work you do, but my work with drug addicts over the last three decades has certainly opened my eyes to what I'm talking about here. Perhaps you only deal with nice "clean" disabled people. The kind that can afford electric wheel chairs (I can't) and live in homes. Perhaps they even get treatments and have family. Safe crowd, eh? I suggest you spend a few years with the street people in the city of your choice, and then you will start to see a relationship between drugs and disabilities. I'm not claiming to have it figured out, but there is an interaction which often makes it difficult to see which came first. In my case, I've had polio, and I wake up every day with pain. To me it is clear how drugs can seem like a solution. After a while, it just gets all mixed up in the mind.

        1. frank ly
          Thumb Up

          'Ole Juul : Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

          Thank you for that well explained and thoughtful response.

      2. Anonymous Coward 101

        Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

        He didn't mean all disabled people are hooked on drugs, FFS.

        1. Fink-Nottle
          Thumb Up

          Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

          I was doubtful too, but apparently it's not so far fetched.

        2. TheVogon

          Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

          Presumably he meant that most of those claiming disability benefit are hooked on drugs! I'm looking at you Glasgow...

    4. Dan McIntyre

      Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

      Ole Juul wrote: "I also notice that disabled people are often hooked on drugs".

      Can you expand on that statement at all? As in what type of drugs and how many disabled people you know who are "hooked"?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprising, but nice to see some stats

      Over 7 million - so that's the population of Scotland + Wales then...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "44 per cent of those people were over the age of 75."

    Cameron's NHS policies will soon get that number down.

  3. taxman
    Big Brother

    Digital by default

    And as long as the systems allows for agents/representatives of those who cannot/do not want to obey the dictate it should work.


  4. Merchman

    Access to the internet

    And yet, the government are looking to make it mandatory for ALL benefit claimants to use the internet to manage their benefits under the new Universal Credit scheme (which is thankfully starting to fall apart).

    1. Spiracle

      Re: Access to the internet

      I recently had to apply online for a benefit on behalf of a disabled family member and it was the worst designed system that I've ever come across. Fiddly text boxes that the allowed text size overflowed, illogical controls for adding records, it would forget your previous three screens if you pressed the wrong button on the fourth - I could go on.

      I could have done better on my own using virtually any PHP framework and I'm not a professional in that area. I shudder to think how the people that the system was actually 'designed' for get on.

    2. Corinne

      Re: Access to the internet

      There's also the issue that benefits as they stand now make no allowance for the cost of even the most basic internet subscriptions. The current £71 per week Job Seeker's Allowance that has to cover heating, lighting, water, food, insurances, clothing, household consumables (e.g. loo rolls, washing up liquid etc), phone and so on, doesn't leave an awful lot for internet access - or the bus fares to the nearest public access like the library.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Access to the internet

        @Corinne Not to mention, of course, that in many places libraries are being closed down, or having their hours cut, in an attempt to make savings.

        The government will of course point to ideas like those espoused by Martha Lane-Fox, with £10 a month internet connections and £100 PCs, seemingly oblivious to the fact that for some people that's still a pretty substantial chunk of cash (and a £10 a month internet connection will very likely require a phone line costing at least that again, too).

        Of course, there will be those who say "but if they can afford beer/fags/satellite TV they can get a computer and an internet connection" and perhaps that's true to an extent. But it also reveals a mindset that says "if you're poor, you must spend your money how we tell you, not how you want to."

        And ultimately, what this really does is direct the poor to spend their lives and their money in a certain way, in order that the treasury can save a bit of money to bribe the middle with tax cuts in time for the next election.

        1. Al fazed

          Re: Access to the internet

          Yes Nick, I've seen the results of these PC's for poorer kids. The devices end up back at base camp hoping to be repaired. Some fucking hope as the body's responsible for dishing them out don't have a repair and return to owner policy in place. So the poorer kid loses all their school work and their family photos, etc. The Govermin look good from a distance, but this policy doesn't stand scrutiny.

          What a f00kin mess !

      2. Al fazed

        Re: Access to the internet

        I agree entirely with Corinne, with the additional levy on Housing Benefits coming into play very shortly, many of these poorer people are in fact going to find them selves homeless as they will no longer be able to pay the rent, or if they do will have to do without stuff like food and maybe even "none prescription" drugs.

        As a long term disabled person myself, I have returned to work recently and am now running a Community Interest Company working to assist disadvantaged individuals with their IT needs. Otherwise IT support on the ground floor is pretty piss poor, generally only available to disabled or poor people who are NOT on drugs.

        On drugs and no where to live ?

        Who needs a fucking internet.

        People just die, which is great news for Mr Cammeron and his bunch of Tax dodgers, as the number of claimants will fall in line with this surely.

  5. Steve the Cynic

    I say...

    "more than 7 million citizens found to have never been online"

    Lucky sods!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I say...

      So do I...

      Only I'm not joking.

  6. TheTrouser

    So what?

    Does that mean you're a wierdo if you don't go online? That you're a social misfit if you don't spend time uploading pointless photos of yourself for everyone to see? Or "liking" stuff? (WTF is all that Liking stuff anyway?)

    7 million lucky people whose lives aren't cluttered with online crap.

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: So what?

      It can be very useful for certain things, that most people need - finding out where to buy stuff that's otherwise hard to get hold of - online banking, keeping in touch with people that may be physically distant for free.

      Anything else, I agree, is completely optional. It's perfectly possible to use the internet and not use Facebook, for example:- I don't have an account.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what?

        Although increasing numbers of places have arsefaceplace log ins and I cant help but wonder how long it is till a facebook account is required to participate on-line - at which point I will have my pathetic 8 meg broadband connection turned off.

  7. vmistery

    I wonder how the question was worded. For example, my Grandparents who are over 75 have a Laptop but no internet connection at home, however I know that when they visit us they do go online for brief sessions on Google to find out the latest butterfly facts or something similar. If these people are considered to have 'never been online' because their use is so occasional I expect the real 'never been online' figures are lower. People like this often ring relatives or friends to get them to Google things for them or go down the Library to get their Internet Fix.

    I guess I just find it hard to find such a large number believable.

    1. frank ly


      " ...brief sessions on Google to find out the latest butterfly facts or something similar."

      Ahhh, Painted Ladies and Red Admirals, phwoooar.

      1. vmistery

        Re: @vmistery

        if it exists!...

    2. Al fazed

      OMG !

      Maybe there aren't that many poor or disabled people in your social/work group.

  8. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    There's a big difference...

    There's a big difference... between those who never go online and those that can't be bothered with it.

    I know a lot of people who just don't particularly see what's in it for them as they're happy watching TV and reading glossy magazines or working in non office jobs and really don't see what the fuss is all about. More and more are getting railroaded and forced into being online as often TV or print related items read "for Ts and Cs go to our website" or just "to enter this competition, go to this specific website and sign up for junk mail" (actually, they probably don't quite say that but it's what they mean).

  9. RainForestGuppy

    What were the questions asked??

    If you asked my elderly parents if they used the internet they would probably say no.

    But ask my mother if she uses Google, and she'll tell you all about how she finds all the best online flight deals. Ask about eBay and she'll complain that my father is always buying motorbike parts, but no they don't use the internet.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone shocked by this? Time=Wasted.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Web wise

    we are still in the 70s - you know, when there were no ramps, disabled toilets, and people's general attitude about disability was "out of sight out of mind."

    In 15 years of website projects, I have never seen one where accessibility was anywhere on the spec.

    1. Nuke
      Thumb Down

      Re: Web wise

      There were no ramps in the 1970's because wheelchairs had not become so fashionable among the disabled as they now are. In those days, the more capable disabled with walking problems used crutches, with which kerbs and staps are a doddle. The less capable disabled would have been in a wheelchair but would have had a pusher who could get them up kerbs at least.

      Back then, the more cabable disabled would have been insulted by the very idea of using a wheelchair if they could possibly have avoided it. But now, even some perfectly able people use disablity scooters - my mother talks to other elderly women and some tell her that "It's my husband's scooter, but it is handy for shopping".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Web wise

        Alternatively they were more likely to be housebound, or worse institutionalised, because public places were inaccessible.

        Oh sorry ... you had an anecdote. Clearly this gives you an insight into what people with disabilities thought 40 years ago. As you were.

        1. Nuke

          @ AC 14:51 - Re: Web wise

          Wrote :- "Oh sorry ... you had an anecdote. Clearly this gives you an insight into what people with disabilities thought 40 years ago."

          In fact the anecdote was about the present day.

          As for what disabled people thought 40 years ago, I can remember when I was small that there were still quite a few old soldiers around who were disabled in WW2. They were quite visible, not "institutionalised". I remember one-legged men on crutches making short work of flights of steps - after all they had been doing it for some years (another responder here seems to be thinking of short-term use).

          They had pride, something that seems to be lacking in many people these days when whinging for benefits has become the norm; I remember overhearing conversations of such men with my parents along the lines that they would rather be seen dead than in a wheelchair (even if, no doubt, many eventually had to use one, as my mother herself now does).

          1. Daniel B.


            "As for what disabled people thought 40 years ago, I can remember when I was small that there were still quite a few old soldiers around who were disabled in WW2."

            Disabled soldiers aren't the same as regular disabled people. They've been trained for far more physical stuff than regular people, and they are definitely not *born* with said disability. Your high and mighty attitude says a lot of you. Get off your high horse!

      2. Al fazed

        Re: Web wise

        I'm currently rescuing two charity web sites that have succumbed to malware infections and are now not available.

        The heavily disabled owner of these sites won't be told anything about security, passwords, JavaScript injections, or just how shitty (non compliant) the existing HTML code is. He still thinks that the sun shines out of the previous developers arse, even though he hasn't bothered to respond to his clients cries for help in more than 6 months. Accessibility was never considered in the original design, but as far as the owner is concerned, the sites look very good. The fact that they are spewing out malware is a concern, but, he is still trying to convince me that I should use WordPress to rebuild for his 4 static pages and that MACs can't ever get a virus. I get fed up repeating my mantras, soon I'll walk away as the pay scale is worse than the original code. I'm doing it for the feel good factor, but that is wearing thin.

        I can only see the situation getting worse as I visit so many web sites these days that just haven't considered Accessibility at all. Web pages are pumped out and dumped on the public without regard. Government web sites happen to be amongst the worst.

      3. Corinne

        Re: Web wise @ Nuke

        "with which kerbs and staps are a doddle"

        There speaks someone who's never been on crutches for a long period of time. Yes they are manageable, but hauling your body up umpteen steps using crutches while trying to juggle handbag (for women), shopping etc really couldn't be described as a "doddle". You saw fewer powered wheelchairs in those days because they were really heavy, awkward & expensive with a tiny range due to battery limitations and there were so few places you could actually use them; you see more these days mainly because they are finally a practical option.

        Your mother's friends may be abusing disability scooters, the same way many people abuse the disability parking permit issued to a family member, but the vast majority of users are people who probably would be barely able to get about at all without them.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fixed it for you

    one regular payment that can be claimed and managed online

    one regular payment that must be claimed and managed online

    - it's about giving people choices don'tcha know.

  13. John B Stone

    so NOT using the internet makes you live longer?

    According to national statistics on life expectancy half of the current people over 75 will be, ahem, naturally removed from the system in 6 years or less. So this statistic will rapidly fall. In fact it falls by over 10% per year.

    As as the report is only indicating a 9% reduction in a year then either:

    A) more, not less, under 75 year olds have never used the internet


    B) NOT using the internet is an indicator for longer life expectancy

  14. Gordon Edge


    May I remind all you good folks that it was people now over 76 who actually conceived and developed Internet; Mobile Phones; PC's etc.!

    1. Nuke

      @ Gordon Edge - Re: Ageism

      Wrote :- "May I remind all you good folks that it was people now over 76 who actually conceived and developed Internet; Mobile Phones; PC's etc.!"

      Yes, but only a small number of them, and it was more like those now over 66.

  15. ElNumbre

    Something popular in not taken up by refuseniks shock!

    Well well, something that is quite popular with a large proportion of the population isn't something that appeals to another percentage of the popular. Whatever next, people not owning televisions or motor vehicles. They must be freaks or something...

  16. Graham Marsden

    Are you over 75? Want some more information on how to use the internet?

    Then visit our website for details...!

  17. ItsNotMe

    Cheers to those 7 million.

    Not necessarilly missing anything much by NOT being "connected". Afterall...there are still newspapers in circulation for folks to get the news...or the Tele as well.

    Imaging their "loss" at not being on Farcebook...or Twatter...or even here, for that matter. Might just be far better off.

  18. Wilseus

    The "poor"

    I'm always sceptical when I hear things like "the poor can't afford Internet access." My estranged wife keeps pleading poverty, and yet she still seems to be able to afford things like a brand new iPhone+data on contract...

  19. C. P. Cosgrove

    This is a real problem

    Having a sister-in-law who is fairly seriously disabled perhaps makes me more aware of the difficulties facing people in her position. She, however is not computer illiterate, but there are a lot of older people out there who are.

    I think it is time to start leaning on my local Councillors to see what can be done about setting up a help group. Perhaps I am lucky in that I live in an area which, at the moment at least, has an adequate supply of libraries all of which have public use computers. Perhaps we need to set up a more organised training and help system locally.

    Chris Cosgrove

  20. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    No shit Sherlock

    "Brits who are disabled, over the age of 75 or poor are among the vast majority of people living in the UK who make up more than 7 million citizens found to have never been online..."

    Not surprising really. Pensioners, disabled and the poor are those least likely to have jobs and/or the spare cash for a computer and internet connection never mind the inclination.

    "It found that 7.42 million taxpayers in Britain had never accessed the internet,"

    And yet the "vast majority" who have never been online are those groups least likely to be tax payers. Unless you are stretching the point to mean people who pay VAT on goods are tax payers. I'd have though. common usage meant those paying income tax.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not such a bad thing.

    If you're a degenerate gambler, or addicted to porn or lack the desire/intelligence to make use of the often dubious 'resources', I'd say that you were better kept away from the net.

    I lived without a TV for over 10 years and most people just couldn't get their heads around it ... now that I have a TV - by virtue of my kids demanding it - I can't seem to find what was so unmissable and important to watch.

    Apart from the shopping and the occasional info hunt, I could happily live without the internet.

    I suspect that for many people the internet is little more than facebook, twatter, youtube and a bit of shopping.

    As most of these are available via apps what we call the 'internet' is increasingly becoming marginalised and irrelevant. What we have is a data stream that is dominated by big business ... sadly not much different from TV.

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