Connecting Scotland - evaluation: qualitative research - implementation and early impact

Findings of research with organisations who applied for digital devices, through the Connecting Scotland programme, to distribute to people that they support.

Conclusions and recommendations

The Connecting Scotland programme has been efficiently and effectively implemented, and has had a significant positive impact on both recipients of devices, and the organisations funded to distribute these to date. There continues to be a demand for the programme, particularly in relation to the provision of a free internet connection.

While the Connecting Scotland model was designed to be an emergency response to reach people quickly and get them digitally connected, it has been instrumental in helping organisations to understand how they might deliver services differently in future. Many intend to continue to apply a blended approach to service delivery in future – offering support through a mix of online and face-to-face support.

However, whilst the model has been highly successful, there are real question marks over whether it is sustainable in the longer term – both in relation to continuing to make devices and, more significantly, free data packages available. Many organisations highlighted the unafforability of an internet connection for many of the households they support. Similarly, some organisations questioned organisations' ability to continue to devote the current level of support to service users, and staffing to administer the programme.

Many organisations emphasised the need to plan well ahead of the end of the programme to ensure seamless transition. The following recommendations have been developed on the basis of feedback received throughout the evaluation:

Strategic recommendations

Consider continuing the provision of free data beyond the end of the current two-year period, but for a fixed time period with a clear transition plan to ensure this can continue to be supported beyond the lifetime of the programme.

Consider contributing to the cost of administering the programme and providing financial support for the digital champion role to ensure that the programme can be sustained beyond the current timeframe.

Ensure that organisations collect monitoring and evaluation data systematically, whilst ensuring this remains manageable and proportionate.

Operational recommendations

1. Remove eligibility criteria in relation to target group and enable organisations to apply for devices for those who are most digitally excluded.

2. Enable organisations to specify which type of device they would prefer to issue to service users, rather than allocating based on availability. Consider offering the option to organisations to receive low-cost laptops where this is more suitable (e.g. for training organisations)

3. Consider issuing devices which are already set up with common apps downloaded onto them to reduce time required by digital champions at the outset.

4. Consider allowing national organisations to submit one application across all local authority areas in which they operate – potentially by bidding into a ring-fenced pot for national organisations.

5. Consider allowing organisations to bid for a data package only, particularly as numbers of people requiring devices reduces.



Back to top