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New report reveals significant digital exclusion in Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK

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A new report released today by Friends Families and Travellers has uncovered high levels of digital exclusion in Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK. The report authors interviewed 50 people from across Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK in July and August 2018 to find out to what extent Gypsies and Travellers experience digital exclusion and to highlight issues with digital access, skills and confidence in Gypsy and Traveller communities.

The key findings of the report were that:

* One in five Gypsy and Traveller participants had never used the internet, compared to one in ten members of the general population.

* Over half of Gypsy and Traveller participants said that they did not feel confident using digital technology by themselves.

* Only two in five Gypsies and Travellers surveyed said that they use the internet daily, compared to four out of five of the general population.

* Only 38% of Gypsies and Travellers (33% if housed) had a household internet connection, compared to 86% of the general population.

The report found that everyone interviewed who had never accessed the internet was above the age of 40 and had low or no literacy. Over half of these indicated that their literacy level was the main barrier to using the internet. Interview participants also highlighted cost, running out of data, signal and needing more support with learning as obstacles to digital inclusion.

In addition, the report outlined potential solutions which could help to overcome barriers to the digital inclusion experienced by Gypsy and Traveller communities and called on policy makers to ensure that they work to support digital inclusion for people with low literacy, consider the digital exclusion faced by Gypsy and Traveller communities when carrying out Equality Impact Assessments and to ensure that all government services which take a digital first approach offer other options are available to populations experiencing digital exclusion.

Speaking about the report launch, Sarah Sweeney, Communications and Health Policy Co–ordinator at Friends Families and Travellers said:

“We hope that the stark inequalities in digital access, skills and confidence faced by Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK and highlighted in the report will prompt action from the government and will help to instigate change. We want to thank everyone who took part in the research and contacts at NHS Digital who pointed us towards promising practice already happening in this area.”

Discussing the release of the report, Sarah Mann, Director of Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“We’ve been aware for some years through our casework that Gypsies and Travellers experience issues relating to both low literacy and barriers to internet access. Through the research contributing to this report we are able to see they combine to create a perfect storm of digital exclusion and this must be addressed.” 

View the report.