7 million adults in Britain still not online

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Imagine a reality without Google. Or Wikipedia. Or Facebook for that matter. Let alone email. Well the latest figures to emerge from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggest that 7.1 million adults in the UK have never used the internet. For many of us who simply can’t imagine life without wifi, this is a staggering statistic.

Cue a pause to allow the full ramifications of that to really sink in. Joking and mind boggling aside the reality is that those most excluded from the online revolution are the elderly and disabled.

One million more people were connected to the internet than at this time last year with the total number of internet users coming in at 43.5 million adults.

Graham Walker, chief executive of Go On UK, a digital access charity did say that the numbers were ‘encouraging’ but much work remained to be done. "It's not just about access to the internet," he said.

"Sixteen million adults don't have the basic online skills to confidently take advantage of digital tools."

The figures throw up some interesting details

London has highest rate of internet users (90%), while Northern Ireland has the lowest (79%).

Almost double the amount of women (4.2 million) than men (2.8 million) have never used the internet.

99% of 16-24-year-olds use the internet. This in itself is encouraging as it suggests that economics are no longer a barrier to internet access and full digital connectivity.

While those aged 75 or above remain the most cut off from cyberspace, there were some distinct changes. In 2011, 23.8% of over-75s had accessed the internet, compared with 34.3% now - anincrease of 1.6 million people.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, welcomed the "fantastic" news.

"The internet offers huge benefits to people in later life so it is an extremely positive step in ensuring more people can profit from being online," she said.

"However, the key is not just getting people online for the first time but giving them the skills and knowledge to become confident using the internet.

"With more services heading online, with the aim of potentially saving the government millions, the government must invest in greater training to open up the web to all."

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