Everybody of working age will be online by 2015, according to the government’s “digital champion“.
Martha Lane Fox has suggested that tasks such as applying for school places and free school meals should be done online, with those applying for benefits having to pass an “informal” IT test.
“As Martha’s work shows, promoting digital inclusion is essential for a dynamic modern economy and can help to make government more efficient and effective.” David Cameron
In the name of making services more efficient and cost effective, services are to be held at arms length – with a series of hurdles to jump. Web-only application is neither fair nor viable for a national government to impose. In areas with a lack of public services offering computer training and internet access, many people could be excluded from applying for help.
This shortsighted proposal ignores the basic problems of the millions of people who are living under the poverty line. Technology is still unaffordable for many. Limited and timed internet access at a local library or job centre is not the answer to reducing the number of people claiming for financial assistance from the welfare state.