Lack of Budget funding is a setback for Digital Inclusion
No Budget funding for Computers in Homes is a setback for Digital Inclusion
20/20 Trust today expressed disappointment over the absence of a Budget announcement restoring funding for Computers in Homes (CiH).
“We are concerned about the impact on the digitally excluded – the 100,000 school-aged children without internet access at home” said Laurence Millar of 20/20 Trust. “These families will be cut further adrift each year that the world moves on and they are not digitally connected.”
Government funding for the programme ended in June 2017, and the Trust has had to maintain national capability for delivery of digital inclusion programmes by drawing on its reserves built up over the last seven years.
The Labour/NZ First Coalition Agreement contained a commitment to restore CiH funding over the three years of the agreement. 20/20 Trust understands that not all initiatives can be started in the current financial year, and accepts why the government has made decisions in Budget 2018. The Trust can only now hope the proposal receives favourable consideration in Budget 2019.
The Government has recognised digital inclusion as a priority for the newly established Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion (DEDI) Ministerial Advisory Group, and has set an aspirational goal to close digital divides by the year 2020. Computers in Homes has connected 19,000 families since 2001, and is widely recognised as a successful programme that is a significant contributor to digital inclusion in New Zealand.
“With this news, our 20/20 Trust Board will consider how to maintain national delivery capability and shrink our operations to match our reduced income until CiH funding is restored” said Mr Millar.
“We are concerned about a significant loss of social capital that has been built up over more than 20 years of supporting digital inclusion. This will create future costs and barriers to achieving increased digital inclusion.”
About the 20/20 Trust
The 20/20 Trust is focused on supporting all New Zealanders to participating in the digital world - for learning, for work and for life. Our mission is to provide leadership and work with communities to deliver programmes that contribute to New Zealanders’ digital literacy, skills and inclusion. We believe every New Zealander should:
1. Have affordable access to digital devices and services so they can learn, communicate, innovate and enhance their lives.
2. Have the basic skills needed to use a digital device and access the internet.
3. Be able to safely transact and engage with businesses and government online as well as with their families and local communities .
4. Be included so no-one is left behind, meaning a focus on disadvantaged groups.
5. Be encouraged to create and publish digital content.