Date lodged: 31 August 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what steps it can take to ensure that people without internet access are empowered to be active consumers and use online tools, such as comparison websites, to ensure that they are finding the best deals for essential goods and services.
Answered by: Fergus Ewing 15 September 2016
Since measurement began in 2007, the percentage of people in Scotland using the internet has steadily increased by over 19%. 82% of citizens are now online and reaping the economic, social and cultural benefits that the internet can bring them.
Recent research has confirmed that households on average can save between £500 and £750 a year by being online, but Scottish Government appreciate that not everyone has access to a computer at home or the skills and confidence to use it.
The Scottish Government has provided funding for 486 public libraries in Scotland to be fitted with free Wi-Fi and trained members of staff to ensure those individuals who need support and encouragement to use online tools have a local, trusted community hub available to them.
In addition, there are a number of free open access points available for citizens across Glasgow. In 2016, the Scottish Government provided £110,000 of funding to help refurbish, increase and grow the effectiveness of the 35 community 'click and connect centres' which are operated by the Wheatley Group.
We are working in partnership with organisations across private, public and third sector ensure those isolated in the community have access to affordable broadband, and to raise the profile of the help and support that is available to get people online so that everyone can enjoy the benefits that the internet can bring.