If you're online you'll save money and earn more.

  Forum Editor 09:33 30 Aug 2009

So says Martha Lane Fox - the woman who started Last Minute .com

Martha, who has been employed by the government to come up with ways to get more of us on-line by 2012 claims that on average, people with internet access save about £276 a year and earn up to 10% more than those who are not online.

One suggestion is that we should all try to persuade a few people to take the plunge, but how do we do that? Maybe some of you can think of a way, other than making internet access free, and giving people computers for nothing. There are people, and we all know at least one of them, for whom the internet is a closed book - they either couldn't care less, or they are nervous about taking the plunge. Then there are the Luddites, the people who say 'I've managed perfectly well without a computer/the internet up to now, and I see no reason to change'.

Are we truly going to be a better/happier/more wealthy/better informed society by having everyone online, and if so, should we help those who can't afford a computer and/or a broadband connection - should we aim to have a totally on-line population; is it that important?

  Jak_1 10:10 30 Aug 2009

I would say that it's up to the individual concerned. If a person doesn't really want a computer or to be online then giving them one free will not make them use it nor surf the web!
The average taxpayer pays enough already so why expect them to subsidise people even further. We don't buy them TV sets nor pay their licence fee (except the OAP's of a certain age who get free TV licencing) so why should we pay for their computers and internet access!
People will not suddenly die without internet access!

  OTT_Buzzard 11:00 30 Aug 2009

I'd like to know how the figure of earning 10% more was calculated and how it relates to internet usage. 'Earn up to 10% more' seems like a sham statistic to me.

The concept of saving £276 a year is swings and roundabouts. If you save £276 (presumably by shopping online?) then you remove that margin from the high street, hence risking a lot more jobs than the online retail creates / supports.

Should we all be online by 2012? No. But we should all have the option.

If Martha Lane's argument has been brought down purely to money, then the governments plan will surely fail. Miserably. Again.

  canarieslover 11:05 30 Aug 2009

The old saying about 'leading a horse to water but you can't make him drink' comes to mind. My mother will never go near a computer and to give her broadband access and a computer would be a complete waste of time. In fact in the immediate proximity there are five houses that have been occupied by the same people since they were built in 1950 and none of these even own a mobile phone. I am sure that this cannot be the only area in the country where there are people like this. I know that they are now all in their late 70's and 80's and that there will be a change in the area in the not too distant future, but for the time being it would be money wasted.

  jakimo 11:10 30 Aug 2009

I invested in one of Martha's schemes and lost money, never again say I

  Forum Editor 11:28 30 Aug 2009

in the minutiae of the statistics we could concentrate on the concept - are there material advantages to being online, and if there are should we aim to increase the number of people with internet access - is it in the national interest?

Other countries certainly think so; Singapore is actively developing a wireless broadband service that will give anyone free access to the internet in all public places. Eventually it's expected that this policy will be extended to include homes. Singapore already leads the world with 85% of homes connected to the internet. The UK comes way down the list in 14th place with 67%, below the Scandinavian countries, France, Australia,Israel and others.

We're ahead of America, but then so is Estonia.

  Si_L 12:46 30 Aug 2009

The internet, despite all its wonderful uses, its not a necessity for everyone. If people feel they have coped fine without it or don't feel they are missing out then there is no reason for us to try and persuade them to get connected. The advantages of having internet are obvious to all, but its their choice, and there should be absolutely no talk of paying or subsidising their access so that they make the jump.

  crosstrainer 14:24 30 Aug 2009

I think your second point is the valid one...Do we give Computers away, and then of course the learning curve for those who have never used / owned n (Much less the Internet) Is gong to be an issue.

Computers for all? I don't think It's going to work...Consider the Blind, Deaf, and amputees.

I have taught them all, and I know it can be done..But will HMG really spend that kind of money?

I doubt it.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 15:19 30 Aug 2009

people with internet access save about £276 a year and earn up to 10% more than those who are not online.

and are probably 10% less fit due to sitting in front of a PC / MAC instead of getting some fresh air and exercise.


  kidsis 15:27 30 Aug 2009

while I feel I couldn't do without the internet, no-one can "make" anyone get connected if they don't want to be. It's yet another government innovation which won't get anywhere, mainly because the two arguments from Martha above are not valid. I am unemployed - and so are many others - and having the internet is not going to get me a job. And do I save £276 a year by being on line? I buy a product when I feel it is necessary and where I get the best value, not just because I can save money by buying it. I would prefer to see all these "innovations" geniuses sacked, that would save the whole country money. Knowing how the govt works, there has to be an underlying reason for coming up with all this guff. Perhaps they are going to put a raft of expensive taxes on to each person's internet use so they want everyone on the internet, thereby getting more tax revenue?

  Stuartli 15:27 30 Aug 2009

If people can't afford computers or broadband, they would seem unlikely to be able to purchase goods or services on-line.

Could also be the case that they don't have a credit and/or debit card.

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