back to article Stop excluding vulnerable Brits from digital agenda - MPs

MPs are pushing for a parliamentary debate on the large number of elderly, disabled and poor Brits who don't have access to the internet. So far, 44 politicos from all sides of the House - but heavily weighted towards Labour MPs - have signed an Early Day Motion in support of airing their views with the government in the Palace …

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My first point would be

....that it seems to cost more when the government puts things on line and secondly the service suffers badly as a consequence.

They'd be a lot better off fixing the system they've got.

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heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

Didn't they plan to do almost exactly the same thing when they were in power?

I always find MPs short memory amusing. Do they really think we are so stupid that we don't remember these things?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

Yes

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Unhappy

Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

Yes. And sadly, the evidence seems to imply that the majority of people are.

GJC

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Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

Its more about the way the coalition is going about it.

DVLA's Cherished Transfers (private plates) are going online and they've already announced the over the counter services are too close by the end of 2013...there has been no public test of an online Cherished Transfer system and there's less than nine months left before it needs to go live.

Digital by default is being used as a cost cutting exercise to replace costlier over the counter transactions as opposed to running alongside them. Due to budget cuts government agencies are not given the funding or time to even trial the systems before closing down existing methods.

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Big Brother

Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

But this government has a unique way of forcing the issue:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21789759

What better way to ensure the online services are used than to take away any other means of contact.

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Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

The faces presenting the policies may change with an election, but the people writing the policies don't. "Yes, Minister" is heavily fact-based: ministers 'go native' with alarming speed, though perhaps not surprisingly considering they usually have no knowledge or experience in the portfolio they have been assigned, and also no experience in managing staff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs

"there has been no public test of an online Cherished Transfer system and there's less than nine months left before it needs to go live."

That may be accurate, but I can't see the owners of personalised plates getting much public sympathy if they are inconvenienced.

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Re: there has been no public test of an online Cherished Transfer system

IME online Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) payment has been working well for several years. Also tickets for minor traffic offences (parking etc.) can generally be paid with a few clicks. So DVLA have shown they can provide services that require cooperation with insurers and councils. That's a whole lot better than medical and welfare benefits service providers, both of whom I've had to deal with recently and neither of whom had much of a clue what was going on even when I eventually got to talk to the appropriate people - either case could have been easily dealt with by a couple of emails, but that facility just isn't available. So you wait for an age listening to "your call is important to us ... we are less busy between 5am and 4am on the third Thursday of the month ... plinky plonky music ..." then have to explain everything twice before they decide you need to talk to someone else, because they don't have access to that part of the system, and go through the whole painful experience one more time ... and it was hard enough finding even a vaguely relevant phone number online in the first place.

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Re: there has been no public test of an online Cherished Transfer system

Firstly DVLA don't deal with penalties for minor traffic offenses and the offences DVLA does deal with their enforcement section doesn't have an online facility, its pay over the phone or write in to appeal.

Secondly DVLA runs the online system alongside telephone and over the counter services. DVLA's electronic system is a perfect world model, it only works as long as you fall within the correct criteria, all your details have to be up-to-date, you have to have the reference number from the latest issued document, you have to be taxing in the same tax class, your current insurance policy must be valif for the full 24 hours of the start date of your tax disc and you must be MOT'd for the start date. If you don't meet all of these criteria you can't tax your vehicle online and even then there are times where you still can't for other reasons. If you have a pre-1960 vehicle but MOT'd it before the MOT exemption came into force and your existing MOT expired before the tax disc starts the system won't tax you because its still expecting an MOT test on VOSA's database even though its exempt. In these instances you can go into a post office and fill out a V112 MOT exemption form and get your tax disc.

DVLA can handle a Digital by Default for taxing because the system has been tested while alternatives were still being used. There will be no alternatives for Cherished plates so if the system is delayed or found to be faulty there is no plan B because plan B was closed due to budget cuts.

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So, the poor, elderly, disabled and ill won't be able to access public services.

When asked about this, a Government spokesman replied, "So what?". When pressed on this point, he suggested they have one of the servants print the internet for them.

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Thumb Up

Re: So, the poor, elderly, disabled and ill won't be able to access public services.

When asked about this, a Government spokesman replied, "So what?". When pressed on this point, he suggested they have one of the servants print the internet for them.

Brilliant!

But won't someone think of the plebs who don't have servants....

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Mushroom

Re: So, the poor, elderly, disabled and ill won't be able to access public services.

Not only is my mum getting on a bit, she doesn't have a computer - doesn't want one - doesn't need one - doesn't have broadband, but she has enough trouble as it is with arthritis in her hands.

Forget about the Labour/Tories smokescreen that others here are happily adding to, how about considering the end-loser instead.

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Anonymous Coward

When I were a lad

Whatever their faults, Central Government has come a long way in their handling of digital transactions.

They used to exclude anyone and everyone who did not use Internet Explorer on Windows - and they didn't see any problem with that.

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Re: When I were a lad

Yes. Now they just exclude anyone who isn't using curl from a rooted Nexus while drinking a latte, playing a ukulele, riding a fixed gear bike and grooming their moustache - in Hoxton.

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Facepalm

Re: When I were a lad

If they were in Hoxton, they'd be using an iPhone......

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Since when did 'digital by default' become 'digital only'? It didn't? oh ok... zZZzZZZz

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Anonymous Coward

Currently there is a rather distasteful blackmail going on over this point. A friend of mine was told that claiming JSA on line would be quicker by several days than claiming by phone, they then pressed the point by reading a list of places local to him that he could go and input his private data onto a public terminal that could be insecure or lacking in up to date protection against malware or virus infection.

Typical of modern government - which have lost sight of the fact that they exist to serve US - NOT the other way round.

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vulnerable

When politicians use that word you know the rest of what they say is going to be bollocks,

Tackle is another bollocks flagging word.

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Re: vulnerable

So what we need is to get tough on use of 'vulnerable' and a common sense crackdown on 'tackle'?

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Re: vulnerable

there ain't no sense such as 'common sense' as it ain't common - we all have different ideas about what 'common' is.

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It shouldn't be "No internet? No help from the government"

It should be "No Internet? More help from the government"!

The people without digital access to government services are obviously the people that need the most help.

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Stop

Should those who pay taxes be subsidising a broadband connection for those on jobseekers allowance?

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You'd be amazed how essential an internet connection is in finding a job nowadays. It would be money better spent than this stupid Work Programme

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Anonymous Coward

Good question

And no, they shouldn't.

Public broadband should be made available at Job Centers, so claimants have access at the very least when theyre in claiming.

If they need the Internet at home what's wrong with Dial Up? Its fast enough for email, and a government-only portal could be designed to work over it quite nicely. This should be pretty cheap to set up, too, compared to broadband-for-all. In higher density areas of the impoverished/vulnerable, speed-limited council WiFi could be provided from a central broadband connection.

Interface-wise, a raspberrypi with a keyboard and connection to the TV would cheaply cope with the vast majority of cases, and those without a TV or phone line could be dealt with on a case-to-case basis.

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Re: Good question

Public internet also available in many libraries. Seem to be more workstations everytime I go.

Went in the Central Lending Library - most visited in UK I think - while browsing the bookshelves noticed many workstation users on Facebook or doing email.

(I have sympathy for any jobseeker who went to his library and couldn't get access because some student instead of looking in the books was doing social media, but I do believe they operate booking systems so you can get a slot if you want)

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Re: Good question

Of course this is especially useful in rural areas where the local library is probably mobile with a bricks and mortar branch being several miles away (and probably adjacent to the Job Centre), thats without the many areas that are closing branch libraries due to the austerity budgets.

In my county branch libraries are only open three and a half working days per week. having a half day midweek, being closed on Monday and always closing sharp at 5 pm on days when they are open.

A few facts often overlooked by the overpaid posers that ruin - I mean run - our country.

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Re: Good question

Dial-up???? For the past three years I was spending ***FOUR*** ***HOURS*** on the internet ***EVERY*** ***DAY*** applying for jobs. Do you have ANY idea how much four hours dial-up every day costs?????

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Alert

Re: Good question

Public internet also available in many libraries. Seem to be more workstations everytime I go.

Most public libraries only provide internet connections on their own fixed public computers --- are you seriously expected to enter important passwords on those? (There are exceptions such as York which offer free wi-fi.)

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Re: Good question

Do you have ANY idea how much four hours dial-up every day costs?????

Yes I do. My ISP has a 120hr package for $18.95 per month for 56K dialup. They also don't meter after 11pm so if you don't fall asleep early, you can get by with their $8.95 per month plan.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good question

"Most public libraries only provide internet connections on their own fixed public computers "

Those worst off in society and without access to the internet probably also don't have a computer of their own to connect to public Wi-Fi.

Though there are high-street chains of coffee shops and fast food that provide Wi-Fi.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good question

" For the past three years I was spending ***FOUR*** ***HOURS*** on the internet ***EVERY*** ***DAY*** applying for jobs."

I don't wish to seem unsypathetic (having been made redundant myself on a number of occaisions) but if you were spending 30 hours a week for three years applying for jobs, don't you think there's a message that in some respect or other you were barking up the wrong tree?

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Yup, I found it far easier to search for work at home than traipsing to the nearest DWP (or whatever it's called this half-hour) to join the queues for screens at the dismal hell-hole.

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Re: Good question

Desiring the ability to afford to stay alive? Ok, maybe I should have just abandoned that desire.

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FAIL

Re: Good question

A Raspberry Pi with a TV connection and keyboard? Dialup access? The people who currently don't have internet access don't even know what a Raspberry Pi is, and won't have the expertise to set one up and use it for dialup. And in many cases we are talking about people with not much money, so paying by the minute for a dialup connection probably isn't great either.

Moving everything online is a great idea only if you are ready to tackle the issues of digital exclusion in a serious way.

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Why are the elderly and disabled lumped together?

I'm often surprised by how many of the elderly people I meet use the internet a lot. And an older-than-me neighbour has a fairly incisive view that sums up what it's all about. (paraphrasing) " When you're having a discussion with friends about how old Cilla Black is, we can settle the argument in seconds."

But "the disabled" is a whole something else. I know one disabled person who has never used the internet. She has also never used a telephone, or shopped by herself in Tesco. The old argument doesn't change. Don't fret about what the disabled can't do. If you are really concerned, increase the number of things they can do.

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WTF?

Errrrrrrrrrrr

Surely if they haven't got an internet connection they can go to the library and use teh free ones there that we are already providing for those who do not possess either a computer or an internet connection. In these supposed times of austerity subsidising internet access for unemployed people strikes me as a waste of national debt money. Stop looking for ways to be spending fecking money we haven't got you tossers!

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FAIL

Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

1) You are assuming these people have the mobility, etc, to get to a library.

2) you are assuming they would know what to do when presented by the computers there.

3) you are assuming the spending cuts won't close the majority of libraries, etc, in the not too distant future.

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Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

It would be almost criminal to require people to use public library computers to disclose the kind of information often required by government services. Many smaller libraries do not have their public machines enclosed to prevent key logging devices being attached as you see in most larger libraries. And I doubt that many libraries manage to keep all their machines up to date with patches and anti-virus software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

1) He is talking about the unemployed, not the disabled.

2) If they don't know what to do with a computer there is no point in providing them with one. Duh.

3) My local council has already closed many libraries in the council area. There are still 2 within walking distance of where I live (< 30 minutes walk) and a third one is just a short bus journey away. They all have free internet access.

PS. Since I am unemployed I often walk there to read followed by a stroll to the local leisure centre for a free swim.

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Devil

Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

Problem is in this age is the rich don't actually do anything with thier money, it's sitting offshore doing nothing.

For example just have a look at how much wealth is owned by how many people here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billionaire (and these are presumabily based on published audited accounts, cough, cough).

Once upon in ye good olde days rich people like the Carnegie's actually FUNDED public libraries and the accoutrements required by industrialisation. Now it seems the requirements of a post industrial neo liberal economy are for a dumb, unconnected, closely monitored and passive population. Or is that just capitalism?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

And in the age of Carnegie the top rate of income tax was 10%. Lets go back to that.

Today, the rich give to their pet charities like WWF (as a tax dodge) who spend 25% of their income "generating funds" and a further 35% goes on grants to other organisations (who probably spend 25% of it generating funds). Then there is the wage bill, support costs etc.

There are far to many charities who do nothing of value and are simply there to lobby for their own self interests.

If you get the time then go the charity commissions website and have a look around, pick a few charities and look at their accounts.

I'll put my soapbox away now.

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Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

"3) My local council has already closed many libraries in the council area. There are still 2 within walking distance of where I live (< 30 minutes walk) and a third one is just a short bus journey away. They all have free internet access"

Well aren't YOU the lucky one! You must live in a very large town or even a city to have that many libraries close to you. My nearest library is about 4 miles away, with about a £5 return bus fare, so to check emails & job boards every day (absolutely necessary for serious job hunting) would use up almost exactly half the current weekly JSA. That's the JSA that also has to pay for lighting, heating, food, household consumables, telephone, water.......

I don't class as disabled, but an 8 mile return walk would leave me in so much pain that I wouldn't be able to walk that distance again for at least a week too. I could drive that distance, but then you're adding the cost of running a car.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

A £5 return fare for a 4 mile journey is pretty high considering the average bus fare is around 20p per mile. Then again you could always apply for the Jobcentre Plus travel discount card which entitles you to pay child fares instead of adult fares and will even give you free travel on Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach if you have been unemployed for 3 to 12 months.

You missed "upgrade to Infinity" from the list of essentials you have to spend your JSA on.

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/03/12/Kelly_Fiveash_BT_engineers_missed_appointments/#c_1759375

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Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

I assume you're referring to my post about when I tried to upgrade to Infinity - which I was trying to do well over a year ago when I was working. Wasn't it a little sad for you to trawl through my old posts to try to find something I'd spent non-essential money on so you could de-bunk my argument?

But thanks for the heads up on the Jobcentre Plus discount card, that's something I'd never heard of and definitely isn't advertised. Rather like the TIS (Travel to Interview Scheme) which many people don't know exists and aren't told about, which is a godsend when off peak rail fares into London cost nearly £15.

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Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

No wonder you posted anonymously, AC 09:50. You are an objectionable, spying little shit who isn't worthy of consideration.

Fuck off back under your stone and don't come back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

"No wonder you posted anonymously, AC 09:50. You are an objectionable, spying little....... "

As a mere innocent bystander, could I just comment that for AC 09:50 to refer to a post you've previously made on this public forum doesn't count in my book as spying.

But I did enjoy the outburst.

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Re: Errrrrrrrrrrr

"There are far to many charities who do nothing of value and are simply there to lobby for their own self interests."

Are you aware that just about every club, youth organisation, self-help group etc. etc. has been forced to become a 'charity'?

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Facepalm

Pensioners! Want to know more about getting online...?

Then visit this Government website...!

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MrT
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Hang on...

..."soon-to-be House of Lords peer Martha Lane Fox" ? Scheduled for announcement on 1 April, surely?

Checking cereal boxes and McD's Happy Meals for the Write Your Own Letters Patent toy...

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