New figures from UK communications regulator Ofcom have revealed that around 1.5 million homes in the UK are still not connected to the internet.
Though the coronavirus pandemic narrowed the proportion of homes without internet from 11 per cent to 6 per cent, Ofcom say those excluded from internet access are likely to have struggled more than ever given the necessity of internet for everyday tasks throughout the pandemic.
The regulator's research found that those aged 65 and over were the most likely to be lacking internet access, followed by those in lower-income homes and the most financially vulnerable.
Nearly half of adults who were not online (46 per cent) said they found the internet too complicated, or that it holds no interest for them (42 per cent) - while 37 per cent said a lack of equipment was also a barrier to them getting online.
A new trend of “proxy users” also emerged, with 60 per cent of those who said they don’t use the internet turning to other people to perform online tasks for them in the past year. The most commonly requested task was buying something online.
The Ofcom data also highlighted some of the issues school-age children have had with regards to internet access for education.
Though fewer than 1 per cent of these children didn’t have internet access at home, 4 per cent relied only on access through a mobile phone – while around one in five children did not have consistent access to a suitable device for learning at home.
In most cases this was because they had to share a device with someone else, like a sibling.
As a result, around 3 per cent of school-age children were unable to do any school work at all due to their lack of access.
Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom's strategy and research group director, said that while it was encouraging to see more people getting online, the issues still facing those with limited access were concerning.
He said: "For many people, lockdown will leave a lasting legacy of improved online access and better digital understanding.
"But for a significant minority of adults and children, it's only served to intensify the digital divide.
"We'll continue to work with Government and other partner organisations to promote digital literacy and ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds are empowered to share in the benefits of the internet."
Additional reporting by PA.