Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced the provision of free broadband for those “facing digital exclusion as a barrier to work”.
The broadband support package will be available to eligible jobseekers through the Department for Communities’ Adviser Discretion Fund. It has been created to “help remove barriers to employment that prevent people moving towards and into employment”.
Minister Hargey said: “Digital exclusion has been one of the inequalities thrown into sharper focus by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“More than ever, employers are posting vacancies online, with many having moved to online interviewing and more positions requiring people to work from home.
“Therefore, not having access to broadband can be a significant barrier to searching for, or moving into, employment.
“I am tackling this by providing free broadband support which will provide broadband for eligible jobseekers who do not currently have the service.”
Support for broadband through the Adviser Discretion Fund is available for a period of six months. The Fund can provide a non-repayable grant of up to £1,500, in a 12 month period, to remove barriers to employment.
The Minister continued: “The success of the Adviser Discretion Fund in helping remove barriers to employment has already been seen throughout the year, particularly in the uptake of upfront childcare costs, which I made available last October.
“I am delighted that we have already helped around 200 parents with average upfront childcare costs of approximately £550.
“This additional scheme will help remove similar barriers to employment for those facing digital exclusion due to a lack of broadband service.”