One in five Sunderland residents have never used the internet or have not used it in the last three months.
This astonishing fact was revealed today by the Keep Me Posted campaign using figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Sunderland has now been outed in the top 5 of the UK’s least connected cities, with 18.1 per cent – 42,000 people – having not used the internet in the last three months – or even never.
This is significantly higher than the national average of 10 per cent.
And Durham’s figures aren’t great either – coming in at ninth place with 16.2 per cent or 68,000.
The Keep Me Posted campaign – which fights for consumers’ rights to received paper bills and statements from their banks, utility companies and telecoms providers – found that a number of UK towns and cities have significantly lower than average internet use.
Blackpool is the least connected town, with nearly a third (31 per cent) of the population having either never used the internet or used it more than three months ago.
Other places in the UK where regular internet use is still significantly lower than the national average (13.5 per cent) include Belfast (23.5 per cent) and Liverpool (19.8 per cent).
Recent data demonstrates that almost all of the 16 UK parliamentary constituencies which have ‘lower than acceptable’ broadband levels are in rural areas. This suggests that for the UK cities where large numbers of the population are still not online, it is not due to a lack of availability but more likely an issue of cost, a lack of digital skills or security fears
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said: “Keep Me Posted has identified what is potentially a huge issue for many of my constituents in Washington and Sunderland West.
“It’s tempting to think that if the internet is available in the area, people will use it, but this research shows there are a significant number who can’t do that.
“This could be due to the high cost of a monthly subscription, having to buy new equipment, or simply having no interest in going online.
“I very much support the Keep Me Posted campaign so that everyone in our area – whether they use the internet or not – is able to choose how they receive their information from their service providers.”