This year Point Topic presents its updated 2023 Report and Dataset on Digital Deprivation in the UK. The recent Census and pandemic recovery have provided ample reason for a refresh of our BDDI (Broadband Digital Deprivation Index) and underlying BII (Broadband Infrastructure Index).
With nationwide gigabit-bit capable broadband coverage at 78% coverage year-on-year at the close of September, and full fibre (FTTP) network coverage 57%, the UK is continuing its roll-out of next generation broadband infrastructure. Despite considerable progress, disparities in access to high-speed broadband persist, particularly in rural areas and the devolved nations, where rural rollouts have presented significant challenges. Digital deprivation is still a relevant topic, and while we at Point Topic focus on access it is also clear that digital deprivation is now a multi-dimensional issue, with digital ‘Skills’ and ‘Outcomes’ making up additional levels that are unfortunately much harder to quantify and measure.
Our methodology, with previous iterations in 2013 and 2020, is an attempt at consistency during a period of great technological change.
2023 results reflect trends which we expected and which were continuations of those in prior releases. Areas at high to medium risk of digital deprivation are mostly located along coasts and rural areas in the north, while lower-risk areas are concentrated in urban areas, especially in London. Similar patterns are observed in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Factors driving digital deprivation vary widely among local authorities, highlighting the need for targeted interventions. However, our data seems to suggest that age is becoming a more significant as a factor determining risk.
Below, we highlight the Local Authorities with the greatest and least risk of digital deprivation across the home nations. Due to the size of Northern Ireland, we pick 5 as opposed to 10.
The overall BDDI index rank is an average of the ranks of its components, hence the risk factors for digital deprivation are varied across different areas. For example, use of the BDDI indicates that the Torridge and North Norfolk local authorities in England may benefit from investing in improving the local broadband infrastructure to make these areas better connected, while the Tendring and Great Yarmouth local authorities can focus on developing specific policies addressing low educational attainment or targeted interventions to assist disabled people in accessing and making use of broadband, so that these demographics are not left out from the benefits that broadband connectivity can bring.
While we have seen improvement in some areas, for example in the south of England and around London, our conclusions echo previous publications in that improving broadband infrastructure in some areas and addressing specific issues like low educational attainment or accessibility for disabled individuals can help reduce digital deprivation. The findings of this study can inform local authorities across the UK in addressing digital deprivation and promoting full broadband adoption.
See below the BDDI LA Datasheet:
This update to our Digital Deprivation Index is based on new data from Point Topic and all the home nations. It includes a review of the predictors and their impacts. Access to the Local Authority level dataset is free, you can find it here (https://pt-public-uploads.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/bddi_2023_la_datasets/pt_bddi_2023_la.xlsx). For full LSOA and postcode level analysis and data contact us.