Managing digital exclusion
With the roll out of universal credit being focused on people managing their own applications and accounts online, a number of local authorities were concerned about computer and internet access. Applying for universal credit, and in some cases the social fund, will require a relatively long, undisturbed session on the internet, and many authorities are looking at how to best provide this.
In Birmingham, one service provider was attempting to map all the digital feeds across Birmingham, to ensure there was an adequate map of free Wi-Fi and computer services.
In the Merseyside region, one local authority has worked with its library provision to ensure that library services can adequately allow people to apply for universal credit. This included altering time limits (there was a 30 minute cap that would have otherwise prevented people completing universal credit claims) as well as moving screens to help ensure privacy while people enter personal details.
Some basic training around the universal credit application process for librarians might also prove helpful.
Aside from these ‘work arounds’, local authorities were keen to stress the need to ensure that some face to face support is available, as not everyone will be able to manage with a digital only service.