In November 2012, the UK Government launched its Government Digital Strategy . This paper sets out how the Government will transform the way it delivers services to citizens, including moving services online – a change in ethos to “digital by default”. Citizens Advice Scotland is concerned that a digital by default approach to welfare benefits could exclude some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society from accessing the very services they rely upon.
As welfare changes begin to affect clients, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is producing briefings in our series Voices from the frontline. These provide personal experiences of welfare reforms as they take effect in households across Scotland. Through these briefings, citizens advice bureaux show the human impact of welfare reform.
In this report, we detail evidence from citizens advice bureaux that shows how people are already being denied benefits to which they are entitled and having benefits taken away from them because they cannot access or use the internet.
We are calling for the UK Government to ensure that citizens are fully supported to access the benefits to which they are entitled in a way which suits their needs, resources and capabilities. In addition, benefit claimants who do not have access to the internet or who are less able to use it to apply for benefits or jobs must not be penalised for this. Rather, we believe that Jobcentres have a key role to play in supporting people to gain skills and find work and that Government more broadly has a duty to support the roll out of internet access.
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