Social value of being online is over £1,000 a year, says BT

old lady laptop

BT has revealed the social benefits of getting online are worth more than £1,000 a year to someone using the internet for the first time.

The findings are part of an independent study, commissioned by BT, to calculate the social value of using the internet. The research placed a monetary figure on being online.

For someone using the internet for the first time, this was calculated at £1,064 and comes from a combination of benefits ranging from financial savings and improved employment opportunities to reduced feelings of isolation and improved confidence.

And the accumulative benefits of being online could be as high as £3,568 when also considering professional people’s ability to work remotely and their access to higher wages from using IT skills at work. This is the first time BT has evaluated the social benefit of being online.

The results draw on an analysis of one of BT’s UK digital skills programmes, Get IT Together.

Conducted by Just Economics, the analysis calculated the social return on investment (SROI) in the Get IT Together programme is £3.70 of social return for every £1 invested in digital skills.

Anna Easton, BT’s Connected Society director, said: “This research reinforces the critical role the internet plays in society today. We will use these findings to help shape our future digital inclusion plans.

“We are publishing both the research and the supporting methodology in the hope that other organisations will seize the opportunity to evaluate their own programmes and help build a rich database of information to help get the 6.4 million unconnected people online for the first time.”

Get IT Together, a BT programme delivered in partnership with UK charity Citizens Online, aims to get digitally excluded people using the internet. More than 17,000 people have become confident independent internet users after completing the three stages of the Get IT Together training and 78 per cent are still using the internet three months after their training ended.

Eilís Lawlor, from Just Economics, said: “Everyone knows the internet is a hugely valuable resource and although there have been numerous attempts to measure the macroeconomic benefits, the benefits to individuals have received less attention. This makes this a very interesting piece of research.

Anna Easton added: “More than 99 per cent of UK homes are within reach of a broadband connection and yet there are still more than six million people in the UK not online.

“This is something BT is passionate about addressing and we hope that by sharing this data and placing a value on the benefits of being online, more private, public and voluntary sector organisations will be encouraged to invest in digital inclusion. It’s only by working together that we will tackle this issue and ensure everyone who wants them has the tools and skills to realise the benefits of being online.”

For full details of the Connected Society programme and case studies on the participants go to www.bt.com/connectedsociety.