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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Our vision

Our vision is a Scotland where everyone has the opportunity be digitally included. To realise this, we’re on a mission to make digital inclusion everyone’s responsibility. This underpins the approach we are taking in this roadmap.  

We want to be bold in our approach. Being bold recognises that eradicating digital exclusion requires us to eradicate poverty, and no digital inclusion strategy can do this alone. Being bold also means that we need to take a more nuanced approach, recognising the intrinsic links between digital exclusion and social inequality, and develop a response that can provide people with the right kind of support when they need it.  

Our approach is therefore underpinned by the following considerations: 

  • Digital exclusion is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. It is a consequence of poverty because there is an economic cost to being digitally included (buying a device and paying for ongoing connectivity). It is a cause of poverty because the drivers of poverty reduction are increasingly accessed through the online world: income from employment, managing the costs of living, and income from social security and benefits. 
  • Digital inclusion alone cannot solve poverty, but it is a critical enabler in a wider systemic approach. By creating a digital inclusion infrastructure, we can alleviate the symptoms of digital exclusion.  
  • Digital exclusion extends beyond economic barriers, and we must recognise the importance of lifelong learning. The pace of change in the digital world will continue to accelerate as new technologies are developed. The skills we have now may not be relevant or useful in another 10 years. Those who are unable to keep pace risk becoming digitally excluded.  
  • This accelerating pace of change means that we cannot take a long-term view of what the future might hold and how our needs might change.  
  • Digital exclusion is not a linear process, or something that once achieved lasts indefinitely. All of us are at risk of digital exclusion throughout the course of our lives due to a range of factors. We are faced with the constraints of a challenging economic context which presents significant barriers to resourcing this work. As a result, we need to be aspirational and realistic in our expectations.  

We are therefore taking an approach that seeks to build the digital inclusion infrastructure needed to catch people when they are at risk of exclusion. We need an infrastructure because, as we’ve highlighted, digital inclusion is multi-faceted and complex. There are many different challenges that require many different solutions which all work together.  

Our framework for action consists of five specific challenges, the core elements required to achieve digital inclusion, supported by the three broader enablers which need to be in place to support them. 

To have full digital inclusion, the five challenges which must be solved for people are: 

  1. Motivation - to be part of the digital world, free from any personal barriers; and  
  1. Access to the right device – the ability to afford an internet enabled device that is suitable for your needs and the task in hand; and  
  1. Affordable connectivity – so that you can connect your device to the internet; and  
  1. Skills and confidence – to navigate the internet, keeping yourself safe, doing the things you want to do; and 
  1. Inclusive design – when you get online, spaces are well designed so that everyone can use them.  

The broader enablers that help achieve this are: 

  • Policy – ensuring a clear commitment to tackling digital exclusion is an integral part of delivering digital public services; 
  • Partnerships – organisations work together to tackle digital exclusion, playing to their strengths; 
  • Resources – organisations have the capacity and a supportive environment to enable them to appropriately embed work to tackle digital exclusion. 
Last modified on 23 November 2023
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