About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Most of the UK population is now within reach of fast broadband, 4G, or 5G signal and have the digital skills to go online. This is report is focused on those for whom cost is the main barrier to greater digital participation.

People living in poverty have fewer opportunities to engage fully in the online world. And COVID-19 social distancing restrictions have only increased our reliance on online access.

Access to the internet is now essential. Many vital services such as education, welfare, health and work are now online, and those who cannot access enough data for their needs are data poor.

This report is the first phase of research into data poverty in Scotland and Wales, and explores in consultation with stakeholders from both countries, the barriers people face to accessing the data they need.

Key findings

  • Data poverty is a common problem among disadvantaged groups in Scotland and Wales.
  • Barriers to people accessing the data they need include low income, not being able to get a data contract, lack of privacy and local infrastructure.
  • The impact of these barriers is greater in combination and for those who have higher data needs.
  • More research is needed to understand the costs of data, how many people are data poor and which groups are most vulnerable to data poverty.


Dr Patricia J Lucas

Patricia Lucas is a social researcher with a particular interest in child health inequalities and evidence for policy. She divides her time between independent work, leading rapid soci…

Rosa Robinson

Rosa Robinson is a social researcher whose work addresses a range of social inequalities. She is director of Frame Collective CIC.

Lizzy Treacy

Lizzy Treacy is a Scotland based engagement practitioner and facilitator, with significant experience of working across inequalities issues with marginalised, deprived and vulnerable g…