The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 16 million households (65 per cent) in Great Britain now have Internet access - an increase of 1.2 million since 2007. 56 per cent of all UK households (86 per cent with Internet access) had a broadband connection in 2008, up from 51 per cent last year.

That means that the number of UK homes with broadband connections is 13.8 million.

With the UK population estimated at 61 million, this suggests that 40.7 million people have Internet access, with 34 million connected to faster broadband services.

Broadband providers such as Sky, Carphone Warehouse (TalkTalk) and Virgin Media have made broadband much more affordable over the past two years.

Broadband prices fall 60% in 18 months

The UK region with the highest level of access was the South East with 74 per cent. The region with the lowest access level was the North East with just 54 per cent.

Adults under 70 years of age who had a degree or equivalent qualification were most likely to have access to the Internet in their home, at 93 per cent. 56 per cent of people with no formal qualifications don't have an Internet connection.

ONS figures show that 70 per cent of over-65s have never gone online. Only 33 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 have never been on the internet and 17 per cent of those aged 45 to 54.

The Telegraph reports David Sinclair, the head of policy at Help the Aged, attacking the figures as evidence that the Government was not doing enough to bridge the so-called "the digital divide".

"Exclusion from modern society is increasingly less about being able to get to the library and more about being able to access the rivers of information flowing in and out of British homes each day," he told The Telegraph. "If you cannot access these rivers you cannot take part."

"This is not only about getting cheap car insurance online. It is about equality in the marketplace. We know internet access can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds over the year from deals on utility bills, food to all other manner of other goods. In a time when costs are rising should we not allow the poorest among us a chance to keep afloat?"

Despite the rise researchers were told by up to a million households that they would "never" go online.

Most of the third of homes in Britain (8 million) that still don't have an internet connection lack access because they can't afford a computer, don't understand how it all works, or simply aren't interested, according to The Office for National Statistics report.

Compare mobile broadband prices here.

Households with access to the Internet, Great Britain and UK, 2002 to 2008:

Households with Internet access by country and region, UK, 2006, 2007 & 2008:

Household Internet connections, UK, 2006, 2007 & 2008:

Why households do not have an Internet connection, UK, 2006 & 2008: