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No govt funding to get unconnected Brits online

UK's Digital Champion says funding isn't necessary

The government will not provide any funding to help the 10 million Brits that currently do not use the web to get online by 2012.

Martha Lane Fox, the founder of Lastminute.com who was appointed as the UK's Digital Champion by Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year, told The Guardian: "There is no money". However, she said it was not needed "to make a big stride forward".

"It is going to be delivered ... [if] you can build a business in two years, you can bloody well get on and do this."

The proposal to ensure the 10 million unconnected Brits get online within the next two and a half years was just one of a number of measures set out in Lane-Fox's 'Manifesto for a Networked Nation', which was unveiled last month.

"By getting more people online, everyone wins. Businesses are competing for more online customers. Government needs to deliver better for less. Charities want to support the people they serve better. So we are calling on them to work together and tackle the unfairness and lost opportunities caused by digital exclusion, and deliver positive social change," she said at the time.

Lane-Fox revealed that 500 private companies and publicly-funded organisations have already committed to help put the proposals into practice. Short courses in computing hosted in stores and open-evenings aimed at educating specific age groups are among some of the methods these firms are thought to be employing.

"Big organisations like Sky, the BBC, McDonald's, Comet [and] libraries are making very substantial commitments to get people online, which we'll then help manage. By using their networks where we can, we think we can make a big change," she said.

Lane-Fox said it needs to be made easier for people to find net connections in public spaces, such as libraries and schools and identify when they can be used.

"There are 500,000 computers locked up in schools every night. Wouldn't it be great if they could be opened up at times beyond when the children use them?"

"If we can get anywhere near our aim I will be extremely happy," she added.

See also: One in five Brits never been online

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