Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the Office of the E-Envoy


  We are investing £252 million to establish UK online centres in our most disadvantaged communities in England, including the 2000 most deprived local authority wards taken from the DETR index of deprivation, rural areas with significant transport or deprivation problems and pockets of deprivation within more prosperous areas. These centres will be based wherever best suits the needs of local people and will meet the needs of those with low, or no ICT skills and who do not have the opportunity to use ICT facilities in their home or place of work.

  The centres will cater for many different types of people but we are specifically targeting a number of client groups:

    —  People who need help with basic skills.

    —  People from Ethnic Minorities.

    —  People over 60 and not involved in learning activities.

    —  People with disabilities.

    —  Unemployed people.

    —  Lone parents.

  Although we are very clear about the people UK online centres should reach, we recognise the need to be flexible about the way this is achieved. Consequently the centres will vary in size and shape from small PC-based facilities in a village hall, community centres and mobile centres, to major ICT facility in colleges, training organisations or shopping centres.

  These UK online centres will be conveniently located where people live and work, or in leisure facilities such as libraries, pubs and sports centres. They will offer a safe and supportive place that will give people the confidence to explore ICT and the Internet. The centres will have flexible opening hours that match community needs including evenings and weekends, and take account of the particular needs of those with caring responsibilities.

  The UK online centres will be designed specifically to meet the needs of the local people they are trying to attract. We recognise that in order to encourage people to use the centres we must provide facilities which meet their specific local needs. Examples of innovative ways of attracting people into centres include a centre within a public house, a centre in a professional Football Club, a mobile centre which is part of a funfair travelling around Birmingham, centres offering music and media facilities, digital photography and centres offering healthcare packages. It is hoped that by offering the non-traditional learning in a convenient location people will be more likely to visit centres and benefit from what ICT and the Internet can offer.

  As not all disadvantaged areas are the same, differences in social, employment and cultural traditions will need to be reflected in the design and style of the UK online centre and in how they are owned and managed. The aim is to give more people greater opportunities to engage in society and to improve their prosperity and the quality of their lives.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 22 March 2001