ONS data estimated that in early 2011, 17.5% of the national population had never used the internet. Four years later, in January 2015, results from Knowsley’s own Tracker Survey indicated that around 21% of residents still had never used the internet. This estimate may be a little higher than the actual figure locally, due to the way the surveys were carried out , but all the evidence indicates that digital exclusion is a key issue in Knowsley.

Knowsley’s Tracker Survey is an important source of information on internet usage across the Borough. Two surveys (in October 2014 and January 2015) each involved in-street interviews with around 1,200 residents, providing a good deal of strong evidence about digital inclusion and exclusion locally. However, there are some considerations.

The Tracker Surveys were conducted during working hours in areas of high footfall across the Borough. This approach increased the likelihood that respondents would be unemployed people, or in retired or older age groups, or experiencing a long-standing illness or disability.

For example, unemployed people represented 14% of the survey samples, compared to the Borough’s actual unemployment level of around 10%. Similarly, 34.5% of respondents reported that they had a long-standing illness or disability, which is above the estimate from the 2011 Census of around 25%.

Tracker data found that of all internet users, the vast majority go online via an internet connection at home (84%), the second most frequent response at 53% was ‘anywhere using a mobile phone’.

However with 24% of households and 14% of businesses across Knowsley with no broadband connection, there is still room for improvement to make it more accessible.

The full JSNA report can be accessed here: Digital Inclusion JSNA