The inquiry aimed to cover the following remit:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated our rapidly increasing reliance on digital technology. This inquiry will look at the long-term impact this may have on our social and economic wellbeing and, in particular, on four key drivers of wellbeing: physical health, mental health, social interaction and quality of working life.”
The Rural Services Network, as the national champion for rural services, submitted a response to the inquiry, consulting it’s membership to gather a range of views from those delivering services in rural areas.
The report entitled: 'Beyond Digital: Planning for a Hybrid World' quotes the evidence provided by the Rural Services Network twice in the report:
Digital inequality in rural communities
Three groups of rural residents are more likely to be digitally excluded than others. The first group are those older residents who have not had the opportunity to acquire digital skills, though this is a group which is diminishing in size … The second group are residents on a low income who find it hard to afford IT equipment and connection charges … The third group is young people who continue to be the most isolated/lonely members of our communities generally and this is amplified further in rural areas where there are less things for young people to do.
Source: Written evidence from Rural Services Network (LOL0038)
Digital technology and social interaction in rural communities
Digital technology undoubtedly helps most rural residents to stay in contact with relatives and friends. It (as well as non-digital solutions) can play an important role in addressing the isolation and loneliness to be found within rural communities. Physical isolation can be an added dimension in rural areas for those living in small or outlying settlements. This may be compounded by … a lack of local facilities where people might typically meet and interact.
Source: Written evidence from the Rural Services Network (LOL0038)
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