The Connecting Scotland campaign, which helps low income families connect to the internet, has received a £23 million funding boost.
The latest funding boost means the project has now received a total of £43 million of investment.
Connecting Scotland pairs participants with a ‘digital champion’ to provide six months of technical support, with households also receiving an internet device along with 12-months of unlimited data.
Launched in May this year, Connecting Scotland aimed to help 9,000 high-risk people access services and support, as well as connect with friends or family, during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Scottish Government provided it with an initial £5 million investment before adding an additional £15 million in August. This additional investment expanded its scope to 23,000 households.
With its funding more than doubled, organisations that work with digitally excluded families and young people in care are being encouraged to get involved with the programme.
The current phase of the Connecting Scotland project has received around 100 applications. Local authorities and third sector bodies have another three weeks to seek support for the families and care leavers they work with, with further details on how the additional funding will work expected next month.
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Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “The pandemic has emphasised the importance of digital connectivity – for education, for access to public services and online shopping, and for staying in touch with friends and family. However, it has also heightened the impact of digital exclusion.
“Over the next 15 months, the Connecting Scotland programme will make a significant contribution towards closing that digital divide by helping many more households to benefit from technology through issuing devices along with offers of support and data.”
Campbell added “By the end of next year it will have brought approximately 50,000 people online, underpinned by an additional £23 million Scottish Government funding. I will be able to announce details of the programme’s next phase, including the groups of people that I believe will be particularly able to benefit in the coming weeks.
“However, it is absolutely crucial that anyone who could benefit from the scheme has the chance to do so which is why I hope local authorities and our third sector partners will help identify even more people needing this kind of support.”