Greater Manchester celebrates its progress in tackling the digital divide

Date: 21/05/2024
Author: Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Company: Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • In the region of 26,000 residents digitally supported throughout 2023
  • Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce is now 245 members strong with representation from across multiple sectors, galvanised to address each of the barriers to digital inclusion.
  • Get Online Greater Manchester web resources were accessed 12,200 times, in 2023

The Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Social Impact Report 2023 celebrates and shines a spotlight on another year of activity, including strong collaborative working, to tackle digital exclusion with partners, at a local and regional level.

This collaboration has ensured up to 26,000 Greater Manchester residents have been supported to tackle their individual digital exclusion in 2023, including help with connectivity, digital skills and access to devices. Initiatives as part of Get Online Greater Manchester, the regions wider digital inclusion agenda for change and collaboration with Local Authorities and partner organisations have all been integral in offering this level of support.

The report outlines just some of the outputs of both Greater Manchester’s Digital Inclusion Taskforce and Digital Inclusion Action Network (DIAN), throughout 2023. The taskforce is made up of 245 cross-sector organisations and sits alongside the DIAN, led by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, to target and address the barriers of digital inclusion on a regional level.

Outputs include the growth of 'Get Online Greater Manchester' and the introduction of initiatives such as the Get Online Greater Manchester Map and a recently launched guide for supporting disabled people. These products, produced through collaboration with the taskforce and DIAN, are delivering on Greater Manchester’s digital inclusion agenda for change to address the digital divide across the city-region. They are empowering residents to find the right digital support for their needs, whether it be connectivity and social tariffs, digital skills training or access to devices and assistive technology.

Also highlighted as part of the report, and a pioneering catalyst for locally led impact, are Digital Inclusion Leads from across Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities. These leads work with their own communities as well as colleagues from across the region, to fuel resource, learning, and to develop partnerships with industry and local partners to help people get online. Together they are making a substantial, positive impact for residents, carers and professionals supporting residents, and our communities.

Up to 1.2m residents in Greater Manchester are limited digital users, or non-users, with around 32% of adults experiencing some form of digital exclusion and 228,500 adults not having consistent access to internet connectivity. This digital marginalisation stems from a lack of basic skills and motivation, tools, and affordable internet access – impacting residents’ access to healthcare and public services, work, education, and financial support.

Since his re-election in May 2021 for a second term, Andy Burnham has driven forward the ambition for Greater Manchester to become one of the first city-regions in the world to equip all under-25s, over-75s and disabled people with the skills, connectivity, and technology to get online. Now, as of May 2024, he has been re-elected into a third term and is preparing to accelerate the impact already made.