The Digital Wolverhampton Strategy recognises the significant part digital connectivity played during the Covid-19 pandemic – and its ongoing importance to residents in reducing isolation and accessing services, training and employment opportunities.
As pressure builds on household budgets due to rising energy bills and the increasing cost of food there are concerns this could act as a further barrier to some residents being able to afford broadband and mobile data services.
Through Wolves Online the council is working with a network of over 40 trusted partners across the city to provide devices, connectivity and support to residents, as well as advice on accessing initiatives such as the national device and data bank to ensure people can maximise the benefits of getting online.
As part of its Warm Spaces scheme, the council has opened its own wide range of buildings across the city providing somewhere to keep warm, charge devices, connect to WiFi and get a hot drink.
Residents on means tested benefits such as Universal Credit or legacy equivalents should also approach Internet Service Providers who are offering cheaper broadband social tariffs, starting from £12 a month.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Digital City, Councillor Obaida Ahmed, said: “City of Wolverhampton Council has an ambition for 100% of its residents to be digitally included.
“The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital connectivity, however those without digital access or skills are being left behind – and the cost of living crisis is only going to exacerbate this situation.
“The City of Wolverhampton is committed to digital inclusion. It is fundamental, not a ‘nice to have’ – that is why we have ensured that digital is an integral part of our city strategy.
“Digital is the primary means of connection and access to essential services and digital skills are crucial for economic resilience and growth, providing a gateway to jobs, progression, social inclusion and cohesion.
“It is crucial all residents can benefit by ensuring they have the devices and connectivity to get online and improve their life chances - we fully recognise how critical and life changing connectivity can be.
“Through Wolves Online and working with partners we will do everything we can to ensure our residents get access to the support they need during this extremely difficult economic period.”
Find out more about Wolves Online at Digital Wolves.