Initiative will yield tangible benefits for the IT trade and the wider economy, claims UK's 'digital champion'

Government says ‘Race Online’ will boost trade

After presenting her ‘Networked Nation’ manifesto to parliament last month, the government’s ‘digital champion’ Martha Lane Fox is looking to woo more businesses over to the ‘Race Online 2012 scheme’, which she claims will provide a boost to the industry.

The report states that around ten million Britons do not have access to the internet. Amending this, Fox asserts, will provide tangible benefits to the economy as well as the individuals themselves.

The Government wants vendors and retailers to create tailored packages for people on low incomes and the elderly, with low up-front costs, affordable monthly payments, and ongoing support.

"So far over 600 partners have signed up, promising to get over 1.5 million new people online by the end of 2012," Lane Fox told PCR. "These include businesses from every sector; from Sainsbury’s to Google. We are welcoming every business in the UK either large or small to get involved and become a partner organisation."

When asked if getting involved could boost the trade, she added: "Yes. Our manifesto for a Networked Nation lays out a clear economic case for getting everyone in the UK online with research showing that if everyone in the country was online, total benefits to the UK will be in excess of £22bn. By getting more people online, everyone wins. Businesses are competing for more online customers.

"Government needs to deliver better for less. Charities want to support the people they serve better. So we are calling on them to work together and tackle the unfairness and lost opportunities caused by digital exclusion, to deliver positive social change."

Government funding for the scheme has been promised up until mid 2011, before the Spending Review.

TCA president Keith Warburton has written a blog about Race Online 2012. To read it, click here.

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