Sun. Jan 24th, 2021

For people on low incomes, free internet access would be life-changing | Rachel Connolly

When you can’t afford broadband at home, everything – from school work to Ucas or benefit applications – is more difficult

A lot of the discussion about Labour’s promise to provide free fibreoptic broadband for all has revolved around economics, speculative polling and even “communism”. But it has not addressed what life without easy internet access is actually like for people across the country.

I’m 26 now, and we didn’t have the internet at home when I was a teenager. Internet access is generally bad in rural communities, but I lived in Belfast: it was just one utility bill too many. In fact, it’s still fairly common for people not to have it because of the cost – according to 2017 figures from Ofcom, only 47% of those on low incomes have broadband internet at home. So when I saw the policy announcement, my first thought was how much easier free internet would have made my school work and university applications.

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