‘1 in 5 older people who are entitled to housing benefit do not claim and just over half of people aged 75+ have never used the internet’, says a May 2018 report from Age UK.
Everything is Online Nowadays (pdf) looks at how accessible the process of claiming housing benefits and council tax reductions is for older people.
Given that older people are less likely to use the internet than younger groups, Age UK questions whether councils are fulfilling their obligations to eliminate discrimination and promote equality if services are difficult to access by people who are not online.
Age UK believes that people should be encouraged and supported to get online but those who cannot, or do not want to, should still be able to access essential public services in a way that suits them.
The report recommends:
- Councils should ensure that everyone can access their services and offer offline options so that people who are not online can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction without needing to rely on others. They should also assess the impact that providing services online has for different groups protected by the Equality Act
- Councils should provide websites and online systems that are easy to use including by those with limited digital skills, and provide digital training or make appropriate referrals for those who want to learn to use the internet
- National Government should ensure that local councils have sufficient funding to meet their statutory requirements, including the proper administration of benefits.