Almost a half of the people who have never used the internet at all are disabled.
Data published for the first time by the ONS today shows that it is disabled people, one of the groups who could benefit most from the internet, who are the main victims of the so-called 'digital divide'.
All told 8.7 million people (17.5% of the population) have never used the internet - 48.3% of this 8.7 million are disabled. Indeed, over a third - 35.9% - of disabled people have never been online. This compares to 11.9% for people without a disability.
Disabled people's organisations reckon the real digital divide could be even wider. 'In this modern, electronic age, where the government wishes to move much of public service delivery to electronic means, it is crucial that disabled people have access to the internet. Without it, disabled people cannot play an active part in society,' said Mark Shrimpton, the deputy chief executive of the disability network Radar.
'Our members tell us that over 40% of their individual members don't have such access. This is unacceptable and needs addressing with urgency.'
Men are more likely to have internet access than women. Just over five million women have never having been online, compared with 3.6 million men.
Most people who had never been online were older - two-thirds were aged 65 or over - while just one per cent of those aged 16 to 24 had never used the internet.
The geographical spread suggests that the 'digital divide' mirrors wider social inequalities. Northern Ireland was the area with the highest proportion of people who had never been online (28.6%) followed by Merseyside (23.8%), South Western Scotland (22.2%) and Northumberland and Tyne and Wear (22.1%).
The area with the lowest proportion of people who had never been online was Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (10.2%) followed by Inner London (12.7%), Surrey, East and West Sussex (12.7%) and Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire (12.9%).
These new ONS statistics, taken from the Labour Force Survey, will now be released quarterly. They demonstrate the importance of this year's Men's Health Week which aims to help more men online and to encourage them to visit good quality health websites once they get there.
Page created on May 18th, 2011
Page updated on June 9th, 2011