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Scotland's People Annual Report: Results from 2011 Scottish Household Survey

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9 Internet

Introduction and Context

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all of Scotland is well positioned to take full advantage of all of the opportunities offered by the digital age.[66] World-class digital infrastructure that is used effectively by businesses and individuals is part of this and will support economic growth, social cohesion and future innovation.

Action as part of the strategy will allow Scotland's businesses, whether in rural or urban areas, to remain competitive in global marketplaces, support the development of innovative digital businesses and enable new ways of doing business that can cut costs, improve customer service and reduce our country's carbon footprint. It will allow public services, including health and social care, to be delivered in new, convenient and cost effective ways that provide everybody with access to sources of knowledge, education and entertainment that were not even imagined a generation ago.

The Scottish Household Survey (SHS) provides statistics on a number of relevant areas that can be used to measure progress. This chapter begins by looking at take-up of Internet and broadband by households in Scotland, with a focus on how this varies by income and area. It then looks at personal use of the Internet - including where and how the Internet is accessed - by key demographic factors, such as age and gender, health status, income and deprivation. The following section looks at reasons why adults do not use the Internet. The final part looks at use of Government and local authority websites to access information and services.

Main Findings

  • Almost three-quarters of Scottish households report having home Internet access in 2011 (73%) which continues a long established year-on-year increase. Home Internet access increases with net annual household income, from around half of households for those with income less than £15,000 up to 98% of those with an income greater than £40,000.
  • Nearly all of the households in Scotland who access the Internet at home have a broadband connection (97%). Broadband uptake rates, where households have an internet connection, show very little difference by deprivation and by rurality.
  • Just under a quarter of adults (24%) do not use the Internet at all, an improvement on the 27% reported in 2009/2010. There is a clear relationship between age and use of the Internet, with use declining as respondents get older. Similarly, women are more likely than men to be non-users (26% and 21% respectively) though the main gender difference is among those aged 60 or older, with very little difference in the proportion of younger males and females who do not use the Internet.
  • The ways in which people access the internet are becoming increasingly diverse and complex, in particular the proportion of those accessing the internet on the move, for example on a mobile phone, increasing 7% in 2009/2010 to 14% in 2011.
  • The SHS asked adults who make no personal use of the Internet the reasons why they did not. Among the most common responses related to people's preferences or requirements were, 30% saying they did not like using the Internet/computers, 26% saying they did not need to use the Internet/computers and 23% saying they did not how to use a computer.

Household Internet and Broadband take up

The SHS has asked whether households currently have access to the Internet from their home every year since 2003. Figure 9.1 displays the figures for households with Internet access by quarter from 2003 to 2011. The proportion of households with home Internet access has seen a gradual increase year on year. In the first quarter of 2003, 40% of households surveyed had Internet access, which increased to 74% by the end of 2011.

Figure 9.1: Households with home Internet access by quarter

2003-2011 data, Households (base 2011: 10,777)

Figure 9.1: Households with home Internet access by quarter

Home Internet access increases with net annual household income (Table 9.1) - although there is a break in the pattern for income bracket £6,001-£10,000 which appears to repeat annually. According to 2011 data, around a half of households with incomes of less than £15,000 had home Internet access, increasing to 99% of households with incomes over £40,000.

Table 9.1: Households with home Internet access by net annual household income

Column percentages, 2011 data

Households £0 - £6,000 £6,001 - £10,000 £10,001 - £15,000 £15,001 - £20,000 £20,001 - £25,000 £25,001 - £30,000 £30,001 - £40,000 £40,001+ All
Yes 54 43 54 69 85 90 96 98 73
No 45 57 45 31 15 9 4 2 27
Don't know 0 - 0 - - 0 - - 0
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 560 1,303 2,033 1,598 1,307 929 1,341 1,317 10,388

This question is only asked of half of the sample.

Household income in the SHS is that of the highest income householder and their partner only. Includes all adults for whom household income is known or has been imputed. Excludes refusals/don't know responses. The figures here differ from other tables due to the smaller base total.

Table 9.2 shows that households in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland[67] are much less likely than those in the rest of Scotland to have access to the Internet at home, at 59% and 75% respectively.

Table 9.2: Households with home Internet access by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2011 data

Households 15% most deprived Rest of Scotland Scotland
Yes 59 75 73
No 41 25 27
Don't know 0 0 0
Total 100 100 100
Base 1,564 9,203 10,767

This question is only asked of half of the sample.

Table 9.3 reports the prevalence of home Internet access by type of area, based on the Urban Rural Classification[68]. The proportion of households with home Internet access is slightly higher in rural areas than in small towns and urban areas, though the difference has narrowed since 2008. Households in accessible rural areas have the highest proportion of home Internet access at 78%.

Table 9.3: Households with home Internet access by Urban Rural Classification

Column percentages, 2011 data

Households Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible small towns Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural Scotland
Yes 72 73 71 63 78 75 73
No 28 27 28 37 22 25 27
Don't know - 0 0 - 0 - 0
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 3,887 3,288 919 563 1,140 979 10,776

This question is only asked of half of the sample.

Since 2007 the SHS has asked households who currently have access to the Internet from home if they have a broadband connection. The vast majority (97%) of households that have access to the Internet from home have a broadband connection[69]. The proportion of households with access to the Internet with a broadband connection has risen year on year since 2007 (from 87%).

Although broadband is now the predominant method for accessing the Internet, take up of broadband varies slightly with household income (Table 9.4). Among households who access the Internet and have a net annual income of more than £40,000, there is almost complete uptake of broadband (99%). This compares to 94% of households who access the Internet and have a net annual household income of between £10,001-£15,000.

Table 9.4: Households with an Internet connection who have broadband by net annual household income

Column percentages, 2011 data

Households with Internet connection £0 - £6,000 £6,001 - £10,000 £10,001 - £15,000 £15,001 - £20,000 £20,001 - £25,000 £25,001 - £30,000 £30,001 - £40,000 £40,001+ All
Yes 97 96 94 96 96 97 99 99 97
No 2 3 6 3 3 2 1 1 3
Don't know 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 - 0
Total 100 99 99 99 99 99 100 100 100
Base 299 551 1,079 1,094 1,108 837 1,277 1,290 7,535

Totals do not sum to 100 as the "don't knows" have not been included.

This question is only asked of half of the sample.

Household income in the SHS is that of the highest income householder and their partner only. Includes all adults for whom household income is known or has been imputed. Excludes refusals/don't know responses.

More than nine out of ten households in Scotland who access the Internet at home have a broadband connection, regardless of the level of deprivation or rurality of the area. Broadband uptake rates are very similar among Internet using households in the 15% most deprived of areas of Scotland (at 95%) compared to the rest of Scotland (at 97%) (Table 9.5). For the first time there appears to be little evidence of differences in broadband uptake dependent on the level of rurality (Table 9.6).

Table 9.5: Households with an Internet connection who have broadband by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2011 data

Households with Internet connection 15% most deprived Rest of Scotland Scotland
Yes 95 97 97
No 5 2 3
Don't know 1 0 0
Total 99 100 100
Base 912 6,826 7,738

Totals do not sum to 100 as the "don't knows" have not been included.

This question is only asked of half of the sample.

Table 9.6: Households with an Internet connection who have broadband by Urban Rural Classification

Column percentages, 2011 data

Households with Internet connection Large urban areas Other urban areas Accessible small towns Remote small towns Accessible rural Remote rural Scotland
Yes 97 97 96 96 97 97 97
No 2 3 4 4 3 3 3
Don't know 0 0 0 - 0 1 0
Total 99 99 100 98 100 99 100
Base 2,748 2,366 659 354 887 733 7,747

Totals do not sum to 100 as the "don't knows" have not been included.

This question is only asked of half of the sample.

Personal Internet Use

In addition to the questions on household take up of Internet and broadband, the SHS asks a randomly selected adult in the household whether they personally use the Internet these days, either for work or personal use. Overall, 76% of adults surveyed said that they used the Internet. Just 1% of those said that they only used it for work purposes, suggesting that the majority of users make use of the Internet, at least sometimes, for personal purposes.

The following section focuses on those who do not use the Internet at all, as the barriers to future use are arguably greatest amongst these groups. Overall, 24% of adults surveyed in 2011 did not use the Internet at all, which is a increase from the figure of 27% reported in 2009/2010.

Table 9.7: Use of Internet by age within gender

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults 16 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 59 60 to 74 75 plus All
All adults
Internet user 96 95 91 80 55 19 76
Does not use the Internet 4 5 9 20 45 81 24
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 1,022 1,741 2,055 3,217 3,127 1,731 12,893
Men
Internet user 96 95 90 79 60 27 79
Does not use the Internet 4 5 10 21 40 73 21
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 450 725 881 1,472 1,389 642 5,559
Women
Internet user 96 95 92 81 52 14 74
Does not use the Internet 4 5 8 19 48 86 26
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 572 1,016 1,174 1,745 1,738 1,089 7,334

Table 9.7 shows differences in use of the Internet by gender and age. Overall, a higher proportion of women (26%) do not use the Internet compared to men (21%). The main differences between genders are among those aged 60 or older, with very little difference in the proportion of male and female non-users of the Internet in the younger age groups. Indeed, there is a clear linear relationship between age and use of the Internet, with use declining as respondents get older. Just 4% of men and women aged 16 to 24 do not use the Internet, whereas the corresponding figures for those aged 75 and over are 73% and 86% respectively.

Around half of those who have some form of a long-term illness, health problem or disability do not use the Internet, compared with 19% of those who do not have any of these conditions (Table 9.8). There is a very strong correlation between health status and age, so this could be, at least in part, a reflection of the relatively low levels of Internet use among older people, who are also more likely to have a long-term illness, health problem and/or disability. Overall, prevalence of not using the Internet is generally highest where adults have both a disability and a long-term illness.

Table 9.8: Use of Internet by whether has a long-standing limiting, illness, health problem or disability by age group

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults Has a  disability (only) Has a long-term illness (only) Has both disability and a long-term illness Has neither disability or long term illness All Base (min)
16 to 24
Internet user * * * 96 96 21
Does not use the Internet at all * * * 4 4
25 to 34
Internet user * 87 * 96 95 43
Does not use the Internet at all * 13 * 4 5
35 to 44
Internet user * 78 * 94 91 72
Does not use the Internet at all * 22 * 6 9
45 to 59
Internet user 57 72 57 86 80 185
Does not use the Internet at all 43 28 43 14 20
60 to 74
Internet user 45 43 41 64 55 292
Does not use the Internet at all 55 57 59 36 45
75 plus
Internet user 13 17 16 24 19 265
Does not use the Internet at all 87 83 84 76 81
All
Internet user 43 50 42 81 73 3,764
Does not use the Internet at all 57 50 58 19 27  

As with the previous data presented on household Internet use, there are also differences in the use of the Internet by net annual household income (Table 9.9). In general, the proportion of adults who use the Internet increases as net annual income increases - with the exception of those living in households with a net annual income of under £6,000 where there appears to be a relatively higher proportion of adults using the internet compared to other income groups (e.g. 64% for less than £6,000 dropping to 52% where income is between £6,001 and £10,000). Only 3% of adults surveyed who lived in a household with a net annual income in excess of £40,000 did not use the Internet.

Table 9.9: Use of the Internet by net annual household income

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults £0 - £6,000 £6,001 - £10,000 £10,001 - £15,000 £15,001 - £20,000 £20,001 - £25,000 £25,001 - £30,000 £30,001 - £40,000 £40,001+ All
Internet user 64 52 57 71 82 86 93 97 77
Does not use the Internet 36 48 43 29 18 14 7 3 23
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Base 643 1,606 2,580 2,003 1,537 1,077 1,509 1,518 12,473

Household income in the SHS is that of the highest income householder and their partner only. Includes all adults for whom household income is known or has been imputed. Excludes refusals/don't know responses.

A higher proportion of adults living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland do not use the Internet (34%) compared to those living in the rest of the country (22%) though this difference appears to be reducing year on year (Table 9.10).

Table 9.10: Use of the Internet by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults 15% most deprived Rest of Scotland Scotland
Personal / work 66 77 75
Work only 0 1 1
Does not use 34 22 24
Total 100 100 100
Base 1,844 11,037 12,881

Where and how users access the Internet

The ways in which people access the Internet are becoming increasingly diverse and complex. Since 2007 the SHS has asked adults who personally use the Internet about the location where they access it and which methods they used. Table 9.11 shows that the majority (95%) of adults who use the Internet access it at home, followed by at work (21%). Fourteen per cent said that they accessed the Internet whilst on the move, for example using a mobile phone, which is a big change compared to results from 2009/2010 (7%). There appears to be a relationship between age and accessing the Internet on the move, with 24% of users aged 16-24 accessing the Internet on the move, compared to 3% of users aged 60-74.[70]

Table 9.11: Where adults who use the Internet access it for personal use

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults who make personal use of the internet
At home 95
At work 21
Mobile phone/WAP/on the move 14
School, college, university, other educational institution 8
At another persons home 7
Public library 4
Internet café or shop 2
A government/council office 0
Community or voluntary centre/organisation 0
Somewhere else 1
Don't know 0
Base 4,400

Columns may add to more than 100% since multiple responses allowed

There appears to be a relationship between household annual net income and where users access the Internet for personal use. Adult Internet users in lower income households are less likely to access the Internet from home or work, but more likely to access it from a public library and at some kind of educational institution than those in higher income households (Table 9.12). Of those adults from low income households (less than £6,000) and high income households (over £40,000) are more likely to access the internet on the move than others.

Table 9.12: Where adults who use the Internet access it for personal use by annual net income

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults who make personal use of the internet £0 - £6,000 £6,001 - £10,000 £10,001 -£15,000 £15,001 - £20,000 £20,001 - £25,000 £25,001 - £30,000 £30,001 - £40,000 £40,001+ All
At home 89 86 90 94 96 98 99 99 95
At work 6 9 11 18 22 24 23 37 22
Mobile phone/WAP/on the move 19 10 14 11 13 12 14 20 14
School, college, university, other educational institution 27 10 8 7 5 7 7 6 8
At another persons home 12 14 10 6 5 9 4 4 7
Public library 11 10 6 3 3 3 2 2 4
Internet café or shop 4 2 2 2 1 1 1 3 2
A government/council office 0 1 0 - 1 0 0 0 0
Community or voluntary centre/organisation 0 0 1 0 0 - 0 0 0
Somewhere else 4 1 2 0 0 1 1 1 1
Don't know - 0 - - - - 0 - 0
Base 204 354 651 638 612 426 674 721 4,280

Columns may add to more than 100% since multiple responses allowed

The SHS also asks about methods used to access the Internet for personal use. Nearly all Internet users (98u%) used a personal computer or laptop, although 30% had used other devices, such as through the television (digital, cable or satellite), telephone (a mobile or Smartphone), or a games console (e.g. PS2 or xBox) (Table 9.13). In 2009/2010, 16% had used some other method to access the internet, and this is probably explained by the overall increase in internet on the move seen in Table 9.12. Use of alternative methods to access the Internet appears to be more prevalent amongst younger age groups, with 44% of 16-24 year old Internet users using alternative methods, compared to only 2% of Internet users aged 75 and over.

Table 9.13: Which methods are used to access the Internet for personal use by age

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults who make personal use of the internet 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60-74 75+ All
A personal computer or laptop 96 97 99 99 99 99 98
Other 48 44 33 19 9 2 30
Mobile phone / Smartphone / PDA etc 44 43 30 18 7 1 28
A games console 14 8 6 2 0 - 6
Digital, cable or satellite television 1 4 2 2 2 0 2
Another way 1 1 0 0 1 1 1
Base 481 769 924 1,215 848 163 4,400

Columns may add to more than 100% since multiple responses allowed

Why people do not use the Internet

The SHS asked adults who make no personal use of the Internet the reasons why they did not (Table 9.14). Among the most common responses related to people's preferences or requirements were, 30% saying they did not like using the Internet/computers, 26% saying they did not need to use the Internet/computers and 16% saying there is nothing of interest on the Internet. Not knowing how to use a computer appears to be another common reason for not using the Internet: around a quarter of non-users (23%) said that they did not know how to use a computer, and a further 7% said that it would be too difficult to learn to use the Internet. Cost also seems to be an issue, with 11% saying that they could not afford a computer and 3% saying that an Internet connection would be too expensive.

Table 9.14: Reasons why people might not use the Internet (other than work)

Percentages, 2011 data

Adults who make no personal use of the internet
I don't like using the internet or computers 30
I don't need to use the internet or computers 26
I don't know how to use a computer 23
There's nothing of interest to me on the internet 16
I can't afford a computer 11
It would be too difficult to learn how to use the internet 7
I prefer to do things in person rather than use computers 8
Internet connection would be too expensive 3
I am concerned about privacy e.g. keeping credit card or personal details safe 3
I  have a disability or illness that prevents me 3
I am worried about the unsuitable or inappropriate material on the internet 1
Other reason 8
Base 2,033

Columns may add to more than 100% since multiple responses allowed

Use of Local Authority and Government Websites

It is possible to access an increasing number of public services and information online. Online services and information can be quicker and more convenient for people to use, and can be provided at a lower cost than other methods. However, a person's use of websites to access public services is dependent both upon them having access to the Internet and their tendency to access information or services online. The SHS explored the part played by ICT-based public service delivery by asking which, if any, things the respondent had ever used their local council website and (non-specified) government websites for.

Table 9.15 presents the proportions of respondents who have ever used a local council or government website. The figures for all adults help present a fuller picture of the use of these websites, as they take into account the fact that 24% of adults surveyed did not use the Internet (Table 9.7). It should be noted that these figures do not take account whether people have actually needed to access information or use these services in the first place (for example, only car owners require road tax and few people each year need to renew their passport).

Table 9.15: Use (ever) of public services on the Internet

Column percentages, 2011 data

Adults Internet users All adults
Local authority website
Finding information 48 38
Download a form 14 11
Make a complaint 6 5
Ask a question 8 6
Participate in a discussion forum 1 1
Access services like report a fault, renew library books, planning applications 10 8
Make payment like council tax or parking fine 10 8
Some other purpose 9 7
Any purpose 56 44
None of these 44 31
Do not use the Internet - 24
Base 9,339 12,779
Government website
Apply for road tax 36 29
Complete income tax assessment 9 7
Register to vote 9 7
Look for information: health services 16 12
Look for information: healthy living/health 11 9
Apply for / renew TV licence 19 15
Apply for benefits 5 4
Renew passport 14 11
Other 8 6
Any purpose 57 46
None of these 43 31
Do not use the Internet - 24
Base 4,668 6,370

Columns may add to more than 100% since multiple responses were allowed.

The question on use of government websites was only asked of half the sample.

When looking at Internet users specifically, less than half have made no use of either local authority websites (44%) or government websites (43%). Among those who had used local authority websites, the most common reasons were to find information or to apply for road tax. In contrast, only a very small proportion (1%) had ever participated in a discussion forum using local authority websites.