Councillor Phil Bateman said ” Wolverhampton Homes has just sent me this information. It is important as Councillors to note the implications, I am horrified at the implications of this. So if you are a friend or a relative of someone who is receiving benefit please inform your contact of this important notice. If you live in Wednesfield North you can of course gain internet and computer access at the Ashmore Park Library which is located in the Hub at Ashmore Park.”
According to figures from a recent survey amongst council tenants in Wolverhampton – up to 40%, that’s more than 9,000 council households, don’t have access to the internet – or don’t have the skills they need to get online.
With changes to the benefits system on the horizon, and with the government’s flagship Universal Credit due to arrive in the city in February, those on benefits will have to be online to make claims and receive their benefits. And with so many tenants unable to access the internet, we’ve written to our local MPs asking them to speak to the Government to see what plans are in place to make sure cities like ours don’t get left behind in the digital age.
Chief Executive Lesley Roberts said: “We know that literally thousands of local people could miss out if they’re not online. There are some big issues about affordability but it’s also a skills and confidence problem too. A huge number of people can access the internet through their phones now but we’ve found that lots of people don’t really know how to use them properly. Our big fear is that thousands of local people could be missing out on job opportunities and skills as well as financial savings like accessing better deals on their gas and electricity.”
The latest figures come after a new digital outreach group was launched by Wolverhampton Homes which is making contact with more than 100 tenants each week who we’ve identified as being at risk of changes through Universal Credit. The group are meeting tenants and offering support and advice on how best to help them get online before Universal Credit comes to the city.