Developing a minimum digital living standard for households with children

CRSP are working on this research together with the University of Liverpool, City University and Good Things Foundation. The project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and Nominet and runs from September 2021 to the end of 2023.

Digital inequalities - in access to digital devices and internet, as well as digital skills and capabilities -impact all aspects of peoples’ lives, be that work, education, leisure, health, or wellbeing. This research aims to move research and policy debate forwards through a citizen-centred and household-focused approach to defining what counts as digital inclusion or exclusion.

This proof of concept research draws on the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) methodology to develop a Minimum Digital Living Standard (MDLS) for urban households with children based on and rooted in public consensus. This will capture the minimum basket of digital goods, services and skills households need in order to carry out the tasks and activities they need, and feel included in the digital world. The project seeks to move digital inclusion policy and research debates beyond simple measures of access and skills.

The CRSP team conducted a series of deliberative discussion groups with members of the public. These have developed a definition of a Minimum Digital Living Standard, and through groups with parents and young people established what they think households with children need to meet this benchmark. This includes devices and internet connection as well as skills and knowledge.

MDLS definition

A minimum digital standard of living includes, but is more than, having accessible internet, adequate equipment, and the skills, knowledge and support people need. It is about being able to communicate, connect and engage with opportunities safely and with confidence.

Further elements of the project include:

  • A UK-wide survey involving individuals from 1,500 households with children across the UK to identify where households are in relation to MDLS.
  • statistical and geographic analyses to explore variation in reaching MDLS.
  • Consultations with stakeholders to explore relevance with regard to key dimensions of lived experience and intersectionality, such as disability, ethnicity, rurality, poverty and housing circumstances.
  • Ongoing engagement with stakeholders from across sectors to explore using MDLS as a tool to inform policy development and practical actions.
  • A full final report will be produced at the end of the project, expected in Autumn 2023.

Outputs from this research

Below are a selection of outputs from this research project - further outputs can be found at the Minimum Digital Living Standard website

Developing a Minimum Digital Living Standard for Wales

The Welsh Government commissioned the MDLS project team to help develop a Minimum Digital Living Standard for Wales (W-MDLS). The first phase of the project comprised a series of research activities: engagement with members of the Digital Inclusion Alliance Wales; a literature review; online interviews and a survey with stakeholders from across the Welsh digital landscape. The CRSP team held deliberative focus groups with parents and young people in Wales to explore the relevance of the MDLS definition to Wales, and the contents of the UK MDLS for urban households with children, including its relevance in rural areas as well as factors influencing people’s abilities in Wales to meet the threshold.

A second phase of the project investigated the key barriers that communities across Wales face when accessing digital provision and to meeting the W-MDLS as identified by both households and third sector organisations working on the ground with communities. The research with households comprised a set of qualitative interviews with families with children to look in depth at their digital needs, the issues they face in meeting their needs, and what this means for their everyday lives. The perspectives and experiences of families themselves, who are in a range of situations, provides useful insight, alongside the views of stakeholders which can inform bodies and organisations who may draw on MDLS.

Outputs from this research