Ruth Maguire has welcomed the announcement that around 23,000 households are to be helped to get online with a £15 million funding investment from the Scottish Government.

As part of the Connecting Scotland programme, the funding will prioritise low income households, including disadvantaged families with children and young people leaving care. These households will be provided with a device, 12 months unlimited data and technical support to get online securely.

Training and support over the phone will be provided by a Digital Champion who will be assigned to these households over a six month period. Local authorities and third sector organisations will identify suitable recipients who apply to the programme on their behalf.

This builds on the first phase of the Connecting Scotland programme which saw an initial £5 million invested to get 9,000 household online, prioritising those at clinical or high risk from Covid-19.

The SNP MSP for Cunninghame South said: “A significant portion of our daily lives are spent online. Now more than ever, we are reliant on an internet connection to keep in touch with others, study, work and remain informed.

“The funding from the Connecting Scotland programme will ensure people in North Ayrshire who cannot afford suitable internet access and require IT literacy training will not be disadvantaged as necessary hardware, data and training will be provided.”

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “It has never been more important to be connected and online.

“I am therefore very pleased to be able to extend our Connecting Scotland programme and tackle the digital divide by reaching over 30,000 households across both phases that are experiencing difficulties with online access.

“This builds on £25m investment in devices and connectivity which will support around 70,000 school pupils.”

David McNeill, Director of Development at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, added:

“The first phase of Connecting Scotland has made a significant difference to the lives of thousands of people who were missing out on the benefits of being online. It has enabled them to stay connected to friends and family, informed and entertained, and able to continue with learning and work.

“This additional investment will enable hundreds of organisations from across the public and third sectors to provide support to those who need it most, removing the barriers related to the affordability of kit and connectivity, as well as helping to build digital confidence and skills.”

The Connecting Scotland programme is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and local authorities in collaboration with a broad range of local, public and third sector organisations.