Data poverty in Scotland and Wales

Nesta and Y Lab (20.04.21)

COVID-19 has exposed a divide between those who have data to spare and those who struggle to afford it. This report explores data poverty in Scotland and Wales. Key findings include:

  • One in seven adults in Scotland and Wales are experiencing data poverty. Nearly a million adults in Scotland and Wales struggle to afford sufficient, private and secure access to the internet.
  • Data poverty widens inequalities. Not going online impedes life chances, increases social isolation, impacts on wellbeing and limits economic opportunities.
  • Individuals’ and families’ needs for data are often not adequately met. One in 10 people with monthly mobile contracts regularly run out of data before the end of the month and larger households struggle to meet very high data needs.
  • Financial and data literacy compounds data poverty. Only about half of the people we spoke to felt they were able to shop around for the best data deals. People with low digital and financial literacy and weak purchasing power may not realise that better deals are available to them. Our case studies highlight the high costs of exceeding contract allowances.