Home Education & Learning BPS Calls for Universal Free Internet Access to Tackle the Digital Divide and the Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in the UK

BPS Calls for Universal Free Internet Access to Tackle the Digital Divide and the Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in the UK

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The stark impact of coronavirus on the systemic problem of poverty in the UK has been laid bare by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which is making recommendations to the Government to tackle poverty and inequality, including calling for free universal free internet access and more investment in local community services.

The five recommendations, which also focus on children and education, the NHS and mental health and well-being, form the basis of a psychological approach to tackling poverty. As part of its ‘Poverty to Flourishing’ campaign the BPS is urging the Government to have an anti-poverty strategy to address the impact of poverty on individuals, families and communities both during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and other financial measures have been introduced to protect the economy, the BPS is urging the Government to focus on the people at the heart of this crisis. The BPS believes the coronavirus pandemic has amplified the issue poverty in the UK with more people and families struggling; it has isolated those in poverty even further, with people cut off from their usual community resources and support networks and the longer the crisis lasts, the more it may widen existing divides.

Director of Policy at the BPS Kathryn Scott said: ‘For individuals and families in poverty, including lone parents and families with disabled people many of the problems they are facing have been exacerbated, and many more may be pulled into poverty as a result of the pandemic.

‘Our “Poverty to Flourishing” campaign is urging the Government to take a psychological approach to poverty and our recommendations can provide a clear, targeted approach to support those delivering interventions to tackle the impact of COVID-19 on people in poverty.’

The BPS’ five recommendations to tackle poverty during and post COVID-19 are:

  • The Department of Education must work to ensure children in poverty are not at risk of falling further behind, including targeted catch up interventions.
  • The Government should work with internet and mobile providers to secure the provision of free universal internet access to level up the digital divide.  
  • Reducing poverty and social inequality must be a top priority as we emerge from the crisis. The Government must also address the psychology impacts of poverty and their consequences like poorer mental health and well-being
  • The Government must move from early intervention to transformative prevention to ease the burden on the NHS
  • Local authorities should build on the goodwill of local communities and invest in opportunities to help them flourish, ensuring that any new services emerging from the crisis are developed through co-production and community engagement

Click here to read the full COVID-19 and poverty briefing paper.


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