Views & commentary

Bridging the digital divide

Views & commentary

Bridging the digital divide

Being online is essential to thriving in today’s society, but 1 in 5 people in the UK don’t have basic digital skills

Woman using phone

Being online is essential to thriving in today’s society. 1 in 5 people in the UK don’t have basic digital skills. We understand that not having access to the digital world can exacerbate inequalities. Digital tools such as the internet, apps, messengers, video calls and email enable and support us to connect with each other, to work, learn and access vital services.

Being offline means that 1 in 4 people are missing out on the digital dividend. This reveals itself in various ways including a higher earnings due to higher digital capability, financial wellbeing as those who are digitally engaged check their balance more often, save more money and more frequently which in turn increases a feeling of confidence. Increased access to core services such as government, NHS, financial services and utility providers. Those who use online banking services has enabled people to save up to £659 more per year1, than those with the lowest digital skills. People with the highest digital capability are twice as likely to have shown improvements in their financial capability and wellbeing in the last 12 months.  As a result we believe a lack of digital skills can impact a person’s ability to be retirement ready.

How we are closing the digital divide and promoting digital inclusion

At Phoenix Group we want to ensure our customers feel supported through their preferred communication channel. For those who are offline or find the online world a bit daunting we want them to know we are here to offer digital support. Getting online with us can open up a whole new world of opportunity, not only in relation to financial wellness but it might mean customers can keep in touch with friends and family. We believe digital inclusion is a collective responsibility and it’s vital we work in partnership across the public, private and  third sector. We’re  currently exploring opportunities to reach offline customers, alerting them to the digital support we offer as well as providing support for those that are online to improve their digital skills. We want to be part of the solution, share our journey and inspire others to join us. Together we can make a difference.

Our digital inclusion strategy

Our digital inclusion strategy aims to reduce the barriers to being online, delivering an inclusive service that empowers customers to get online wherever they are on their digital journey. We are currently focusing in on three key areas, providing digital skills hubs, upskilling colleagues and completing an accessibility audit.

Digital skills hubs

We’re creating digital skills hubs for our customers and their loved ones to access and learn online in their own time and at their own pace. Our bitesize learning resources can be used by friends and family for their own needs or as a means of supporting someone else. You can see one example of our digital skills hubs on the Standard Life website.

To develop this hub we worked alongside a company called Three Hands to test our skills hubs. Three Hands employ lived experts and bring business and human-lived experience together to inform service design.

Upskilling colleagues to become digital champions

We're currently developing a digital champion training programme to actively upskill our colleagues on digital inclusion. The training will cover how they can each build digital inclusion into their roles, support our customers, and ensure we design and deliver an inclusive service. We are working in partnership with digital inclusion charities Mhor Collective and SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) and Cowry (Behavioural Science Consultancy).



I volunteered to become digital champion because I want to help people develop their digital skills, and particularly our vulnerable customers who might not be as advanced using technology.

The sense of togetherness between Champions, Colleagues and the Community was inspirational. It was a brilliant day and so worthwhile for all those who attended.

Digital Skills Training

Completing our accessibility audit

We’re completing an accessibility audit of our websites and apps to ensure customers have a positive online inclusive experience. We work in partnership with the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC) whose user-testers have lived experience with accessibility requirements, allowing us to not rely on automated scanning tools (which pick up ~40% of accessibility issues (DAC)). We’re also working closely with our Vulnerable Customer Team on creating Vulnerable Customer Digital Standards (VCDS), covering auditing, testing, learning and more – making our platforms more tailored to those experiencing vulnerable circumstances. As part of the VCDS piece, we’re also developing digital alternatives for some telephony-only journeys.

We want to empower all customers to engage with us through their channel of choice and these standards will help ensure we design our digital offerings with vulnerability in mind ensuring customers facing vulnerable circumstances aren’t excluded from our digital journeys

Engaging with our customers digitally enables us to provide the best possible service proposition and achieve our aim “Helping people secure a life of possibilities”. This is just the beginning.

We have exciting plans coming up that include gaining a deeper understanding of our customer digital inclusion needs to support us in targeting and reaching out to customers in a way that works best for them. We will continue to expand our digital champion programme and work with strategic partners to combine our collective expertise and drive forward our commitment to reducing digital exclusion for our customers and wider society. In the words of Tim Berners-Lee - the computer scientist best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web - ‘this is for everyone’.


1. Lloyd's Consumer Digital Index Report 2022: