Two thirds (more than 300,000) of the region’s pensioners who struggle with basic aspects of living independently also never go online.
The figures present fresh challenges for local authorities facing new duties to provide advice and support to these people once the Care Act comes into effect in April 2015 - according to Independent Age and the Strategic Society Centre which carried out the research. The act means councils and care providers will have to offer more help to older people and their carers.
Janet Morrison, Independent Age chief executive, said: “This vulnerable group of older people are far less likely to use the internet than the 65+ population in general. Given these findings, it’s clear that local authorities need to fully understand their population and cater for them properly. This will mean looking further than just the cost-effective option of providing advice and information online. It also raises questions about whether local authorities can manage this alone.”
Independent Age and the Strategic Society Centre say many cash-strapped local authorities plan to fulfil their new duties by providing information on the web, but given the low level of internet use among the people the Care Act aims to help, councils will not be able to meet the new demands through online strategies alone. They say to fully meet their duties councils should continue to develop and empower organisations and providers at a local level who seek to connect individuals with services and support available locally.
James Lloyd, Strategic Society Centre director said: “Councils need to be acting now if the promises of the Care Act are to be fulfilled, but national government also has to ensure that there is enough funding to properly implement it.”