Mastercard has joined a coalition working to offer immediate support to digitally and financially excluded people in the UK, focusing on those in poverty hit hardest by the impact of Covid-19.
The payments giant is joined in the 'Leave Nobody in the Dark' campaign by the Good Things Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation social change organisation, The Aple Collective of people with experience of poverty, and Clean Slate Training & Employment CIC.
In the UK, it is estimated that 11.7 million people lack basic digital skills and that there are an estimated 1.9 million households with no internet access.
This digital divide is most pronounced for those living in poverty; almost half of those with an income below £11,500 lack essential digital skills compared to less than 11% of those with an income over £25,000.
Covid-19 is exacerbating the problem: An estimated 6 million people have fallen behind on a household bill due to coronavirus, and data from Citizen's Advice shows that the least digitally engaged are more likely to be paying higher household bills irrespective of income, household or age.
The new coalition is aiming to address this through a new self-help portal for those who have limited digital skills to boost their online confidence and engage with free, trusted online support around money, security, benefits and debt.
The programme is also offering devices, data and digital skills support to people in poverty, and practical money help and improved digital confidence, delivered remotely by Clean Slate and other community partners.
Kelly Devine, divisional president, Mastercard UK & Ireland, says: "To recover from Covid-19 in a long-term, sustainable way, we have to make sure that everyone is included. Helping people access the digital economy, and feel confident in doing so, is a critical part of that."