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Cost of living

“Edgar has enjoyed using the device so much that he recently used up all his data allowance. When he became disconnected, he quickly realised how much he missed being online! Having his SIM upgraded to unlimited data has helped a lot.”

Pam, Digital Champion with Fife Council housing support, talking of the importance of connectivity for people on low incomes

Today, most essential services are accessed online. It’s how we work and it’s how we navigate our day-to-day lives. If we are unable to be online we can often end up paying more for basics like utilities. Being able to shop around and compare prices for essentials can make a significant difference to some of the costs of living. But it’s not just comparing prices on utilities that can help people save money, it’s the wider benefits of being connected. If someone has internet access at home and can, for example, attend a healthcare appointment on NearMe then they can avoid incurring other costs like travel, childcare and having to take time away from work. Giving people internet access can help them find the tools to be able to manage their own lives, and to save money or increase their income.

"Just downloaded a budgeting app which is helping us keep on top of our money."

recipient of a device from Barmulloch Community Development Company in Glasgow

“I am now able to access my Universal Credit and not worry about missing important info”

recipient supported by The Libertie Project, Inverness

"My bank is good now as before I had to go a 30 min walk to a machine, then 30 min back, to check if something had been paid….now I just press a button."

recipient who has a traumatic brain injury, and received support from East Ayrshire Council

Meet Gerry who was worried about getting online but now manages online banking and shopping

Anya's story

Anya received a device and internet connection from One Parent Families Scotland OPFS. She is a single parent of five children aged, 15, 13, 11, 10 and 4 years of age. Anya struggles with mental health as a result of domestic abuse in a past relationship. She still needs to take prescribed medication and does not cope well with additional stress or pressure.

When Anya contacted OPFS, she was relying solely on Crisis Grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund. Her advisor arranged crisis support, emergency food, wellbeing support and arranged the benefits that Anya didn’t know she was entitled to. Anya is also keen to work part time and was referred to the OPFS Employability service, where an action plan of support was established.

A barrier identified was that Anya’s old phone had limited internet access. She also had very limited digital skills. OPFS were able to award a new digital device, digital training, and assistance with connectivity to overcome this barrier. This was crucial to enabling Anya to stay in contact with OPFS, access her Universal Credit claim, and get support to apply for other benefits. When the benefits that Anya is entitled to had been sorted out and backdated to 2015, her backdated payment totalled £39,290.

Anya reports feeling more confident of now finding work within her available hours that is appropriate to her mental health needs. She feels that part time work would help her mental health and ‘give her focus and purpose again’.

Mary who received a device from South Lanarkshire Council says it has been amazing for online shopping, ending the struggle to go to shops in person due to social anxiety

Daphne received a device from Food Train Scotland who wanted to help their older members in need

Quotes from organisations

"I was referred someone from our welfare rights team. Totally offline, no money and needed help with benefits support. Sorted, easy. He’s just been awarded £10,000 of backdated benefits!"

Rory, Community Learning and Development with Govan Housing Association

“One of our recipients has gone from technophobe to selling their paintings on an online platform!”

Julie, Terrence Higgins Trust in Dundee

"Robin loves that he can use online banking which is more accessible than visiting a high street branch."

Ewan, Fife Council, Housing Support Officer