Essex County Council tool could help offline households save money

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Households without internet access spend £286 a month more as a result, according to a council.

Essex County Council is set to launch a pilot scheme in June to tackle “digital exclusion” and help residents access support.

The tool will recommend a list of local support services that the council has mapped from across the county.

Deputy leader Louise McKinlay said the program would be “tailored to individual needs”.

”This innovative tool, accessible without an internet connection or existing digital skills, is part of our drive to tackle the causes of digital exclusion in Essex,” Councillor McKinlay, cabinet member for leveling up, communities, and business engagement, said.

‘Skills and confidence’

The council is working with technology company Mortar to provide the tool, which is a regional version of the Local Government Association-backed Digital Inclusion Triage Tool.

Local services could include support in using digital devices, guidance on online access, and upskilling digital skills by finding classes and courses.

The authority said research showed that people who do not have “the access, skills, and confidence to use the internet” are more likely to face inequalities than those who do.

It said households that do not use the internet could also spend £286 a month more on average.

George Unsworth, founder and chief executive officer of Mortar, said: “We are looking forward to helping foster the long-term, local collaborations in Essex that are needed to effectively combat digital exclusion.”

The council is now inviting local organizations to come forward to be part of the initiative.

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