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Scottish government hands out laptops and tablets to the digitally excluded

As part of its Connecting Scotland programme, the Scottish government is giving out 23,000 iPads and Chromebooks to low-income families and care leavers, along with two years of mobile data

The Scottish government is issuing tablets and laptops to digitally excluded families across Scotland as part of a drive to support the most vulnerable in getting online.

As part of the latest phase of its £43m Connecting Scotland programme, the government is handing out 23,000 iPads and Chromebooks to low-income families and care leavers. To ensure they have access to the internet and can grow in confidence using it, the government is also giving them mobile data for up to two years.

Scottish communities secretary Aileen Campbell said that access to the internet during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic brings “huge benefits”.

It provides a way to keep in touch and keep us informed, and is also an important way for people of all ages to further their education, find work and training opportunities.

“That’s why in this year’s programme for government we further committed to our world-leading Connecting Scotland programme by pledging to reach a total of 50,000 digitally excluded or marginalised people by the end of 2021. The combination of a device plus ongoing support means that everyone can get the most out of their laptop or tablet, and develop their skills,” she said.

In August 2020, the Scottish government also announced a £15m investment boost and an extension for the programme, promising to prioritise families with children and young people leaving care.

The extension of Connecting Scotland follows the Scottish government’s setbacks around the roll-out of superfast broadband to all homes and businesses promised for 2021.

The Scottish government’s supplier-led Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) was launched in August 2020 with the aim of providing Scottish citizens with access to superfast broadband by the end of 2021, after failing to hit the target through its main infrastructure project, Reaching 100% (R100) programme.

The R100 programme was announced in December 2017 and was part of a 2016 Scottish parliament election manifesto commitment by the ruling SNP.

But in January 2020, the government admitted that only half of Scotland’s population would have access to connections of at least 30Mbps by 2021 and that the final target was likely to be met by the end of 2023.

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