Age UK issues warning about online emphasis

A charity has warned that the decision to shift many public services online runs the risk of leaving many pensioners without vital support.

Age UK said that the trend towards greater online support was often bad news for those elderly people who don’t have access to the internet.

The fear is that the digital revolution may leave older generations behind and even deter some from seeking the support they need.

The charity’s research reveals that despite a greater emphasis on online services among many organisations, there is a clear disparity between different age groups when it comes to online usage.

Virtually all young adults (around 99 per cent of those surveyed) have recently used the internet, but this falls to 71 per cent among 65 to 74-year-olds. For those over 75, just a third have recently logged on.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “We are worried that while many of those older people who are offline don’t see this as a problem, they are at risk of becoming seriously disadvantaged.

“We want to increase the numbers of older people benefiting from digital technology, while ensuring that those who are not online do not miss out on, or find it harder to access, essential goods and services.

“It’s bad enough that it is so hard to compare utility providers if you aren’t online, but it would be even worse if similar barriers arose for older people in terms of obtaining State benefits and other support.

“Amidst the Government drive towards ‘digital by default’, the needs of older people who are not online and who probably never will be must be taken fully into account.”

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