Report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services.
Members received a report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services in respect of the City of London Corporation’s targeted support to help some vulnerable or low-income households access the internet to support learning. The report set out an option for an expanded scheme, limited to the duration of the current pandemic restrictions, to targeted groups. It noted that a budget will need to be identified to deliver such a scheme and, as this would be from local risk, then further decisions would be required in respect of other projects and priorities.
? Covid-19 had exacerbated digital exclusion as local Wi-Fi hot spots were limited following the closure of many public facilities.
? An expansion of the scheme could possibly reach the out of City estates. However, this report sought to address data poverty and, if expanded to equipment, there would not only be further budget implications but challenges if there were gaps in IT skills and knowledge by some recipients.
? Schools had identified those children at risk; i.e. – those in or leaving care, on plans or with disabilities. A number of schools had been providing laptops to Year 10, or printed lesson packs and teachers were in weekly contact with pupils. Members noted that Prior Weston had loaned equipment to some pupils.
? The Department for Education (DFE) had allocated laptops to schools and a delivery was expect on Tuesday, 26th May, after the Bank Holiday weekend.
? A local MP had appealed to larger companies who regularly turned over their IT equipment.
1. An expanded offer be agreed for those meeting the criteria; i.e. – low income households in receipt of benefits, and defined as:
? clinically extremely vulnerable (“shielded”)
? clinically vulnerable (advised by government to “self-isolate”)
2. Such a scheme provide a hotspot device as the primary offer.
3. Officers work with local charities and businesses and approval of an additional budget to support the scheme be delegated to the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Community and Children’s Services Committee.