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4,750 free tablets are coming to the Liverpool City Region’s digitally excluded

Almost 5,000 people across the Liverpool City Region are set to receive free tablets, internet access and on-line skills training, thanks to a new partnership aimed at helping people get online.

Participants in the scheme will receive a free android tablet, along with in-person training on getting the most out of the internet, and six months of free data.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is facilitating the scheme, which is part of the Digital Inclusion Initiative (DII), an industry-led programme committed to bridging the digital divide by driving digital skills, enhancing lives through better digital connectivity, and stimulating economic growth across the UK.

Working with Lloyds Bank and Vodafone, roll-out in the Liverpool City Region will start with a pilot delivering tablets and training to 300 local people who are unemployed or economically inactive.

People will be referred on to the initial pilot from the Department of Work and Pensions Restart Scheme and the Ways to Work programme run by the six local authorities, with in-person digital inclusion group training sessions delivered by Lloyds Digital Trainers.

Over the next year, 4,750 tablets, training and mobile internet access will be provided to people who are digitally excluded across the city region. The initiative will work with partners across the community and voluntary sector, local authorities and other members of the recently launched Digital Inclusion Network – including Households into Work and Housing First – to provide this support to those in need.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Since I was elected Mayor, I’ve been on a mission to make our region the most digitally connected anywhere in the country.

“The last few years have accelerated the move towards a more digital world and proved how important connectivity and technology will be in all our lives. However, there are still too many people in our area who are excluded for a variety of reasons – and struggle to navigate through the digital world.

“It’s our duty to properly connect our residents up with this 21st century necessity and schemes like this will help us to directly target those who are most in need of our support. We’re creating what I hope will be a better-connected future that everyone in our region can benefit from – it’s proper levelling up in action.”

Omar Mir, president of World Wide Technology and DII chair, said: “This transformative scheme will equip and empower the most digitally excluded individuals with devices, digital training and connectivity to help improve their lives and provide opportunities for economic empowerment. With the invaluable collaboration of our esteemed partners we will unlock the immense potential of digital access, and ensure that no one is left behind in this digital age.”

Mayor Rotheram and the Combined Authority’s digital inclusion work is part of a range of activities aimed at improving connectivity through the city region. Those activities include LCR Connect, a joint venture 50 per cent publicly-owned by the Combined Authority, that is creating a 212km ultrafast, gigabit-capable digital network across the area.

Recently published analysis by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute estimates that 324,590 LCR working age residents are limited or non-users of the internet, whilst 30,560 households with school age children are offline or headed by limited users.

Digital inclusion involves providing equal opportunities and resources for individuals to access and utilise digital tools, such as computers, the internet, and other digital devices and services.

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