Press Release | 31 Aug 2022

Fear of going online could cost over 65s almost £1,000 a year

New study reveals over 65s could be missing out on the UK’s best deals, as Vodafone Foundation and Independent Age launch new Hi Digital platform to help seniors gain digital skills, save money, and feel more connected.

  • New study reveals over 65s could be missing out on the UK’s best deals, goods and services if they are reluctant to go online.
  • Vodafone UK Foundation and Independent Age offer new Hi Digital resource to help over 65s gain digital skills, save money, and feel more connected.
  • Consumer champion Gloria Hunniford backs scheme and gives top tips for the older generation to get online.
  • Case study testimonials in Notes to Editors below.

People in later life who have reservations about using the internet could be losing almost £1,000 a year by not being computer savvy, according to a new study.

With nearly half (45%) of over 65s admitting they don’t feel completely comfortable going online, and the cost-of-living crisis set to deepen this autumn, new research by Vodafone UK Foundation suggests many older people could face a further squeeze on their living standards due to their concerns about using the internet to shop around for the best deals or pay for goods and services.

Over 65s who are not fully at ease using the internet could be forking out on average an extra £97 on clothes, £158 on entertainment services, £184 on travel and missing out on £156 of state entitlements – adding up to a potential loss of £909 per person each year.

Importantly, the implications aren’t solely financial. The research also highlighted that two-fifths (38%) of older people who have reservations about going online feel forgotten when ‘digital first’ is the default option, while 34% are more likely to feel stressed when services require an online action, such as booking a doctor’s appointment using a website.

Of those who’d benefit from learning online skills, two-fifths (41%) in this group felt they’d been prevented from improving their digital skills because they didn’t know where to look for help. And of those who already felt very comfortable online, more than a quarter (27%) said they would benefit from learning new digital skills.

Hi Digital launch

Consumer champion Gloria Hunniford has teamed up with Vodafone UK Foundation and national charity Independent Age to launch Hi Digital, a programme designed to help the over 65s develop their digital skills, save money and feel more connected.

Hi Digital is a free online resource that offers step-by-step advice on digital essentials such as using a search engine, online shopping, accessing news and keeping in touch with family and friends.

Working with Vodafone UK Foundation, Independent Age will be promoting the resource to people over 65 and their friends and families, linking to the resource from their own website and working with their teams and volunteers on the ground in communities to help expand the reach of Hi Digital. The goal is to help 50,000 older people improve their digital skills in the next year.

Gloria Hunniford, TV broadcaster, said: “At long last, I’m relatively comfortable online – but I absolutely understand older people’s concerns. There are so many benefits to taking the plunge – from making financial savings, which are so vital at the moment, to keeping in touch with loved ones and feeling less isolated.

“I’m delighted that Vodafone UK Foundation has created this learning programme, especially to help build up older people’s digital confidence. I urge everyone to take a look – maybe you could use it to help a friend, neighbour or an older person in your community.”

Other key findings from the study show that half (54%) of those who expressed some doubts about fully embracing the digital world said this was due to concern about scams and online security; not knowing how to fix something if it goes wrong (49%); and finding the pace at which the digital world changes too hard to keep up with (38%).

Traditional chores for over 65s could be revolutionised through the internet; however, currently only a quarter (26%) feel very comfortable claiming benefits digitally and less than a half (45%) say they are very comfortable booking a doctor’s appointment or ordering a prescription online.

Nicki Lyons, Vodafone’s UK Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, said: “Our everyone.connected campaign is helping people access the connectivity, devices and skills they need to live life to the full. We understand why many older people aren’t comfortable online and wanted to create a programme especially for them.

How Vodafone's everyone.connected campaign is tackling digital exclusion

Nicki Lyons, Vodafone's UK Director of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, explains how the company is fulfilling its mission to connect the disconnected and support vulnerable people.

“Through Hi Digital, our Foundation’s programme, and our partnership with Independent Age, we hope to reach 50,000 older people and give them the confidence to unlock financial savings and feel more connected to their loved ones.

“If you know someone who might benefit from the programme, please search Vodafone everyone connected to find out more.”

Simon Hewett-Avison, Director of Services at Independent Age, said: “Being online can come with many benefits, including potential savings which are never more needed than in the current cost-of-living crisis. But as technology continues to move at an ever-increasing pace, many people over 65 tell us they feel left behind. We’re working to ensure everyone has access to the support they need, in a way that works for them. Hi Digital can boost the confidence of those who do want to get online.”

Vicky Parry, Consumer Expert from MoneyMagpie, said: “With energy and food prices rising, more support and time is needed to help the older generation feel comfortable online and so access financial savings. We’re delighted that Vodafone UK Foundation has launched Hi Digital to help older people develop confidence in surfing the net and so potentially save money on energy, travel and entertainment.”

Gloria’s Top Tips for getting online

  1. Be patient and take your time: don’t expect to feel comfortable and good at it right away. Perhaps it may take a few sessions to get used to being online.
  2. Get help from a person or organisation you trust: the internet is a great way of staying connected to loved ones and accessing financial savings, but if you’re unsure how to get started, charity Independent Age can help.
  3. Work through the Hi Digital modules from Vodafone UK Foundation: to give you a good starting point to feeling more comfortable surfing the internet and keeping safe online, start by working through the helpful Hi Digital modules from Vodafone UK Foundation.
  4. Be aware of online scams and fraud: especially as they become increasingly sophisticated. Be wary of opening emails from senders you don’t recognise or browsing websites that don’t have a padlock symbol in the URL bar – but don’t let this deter you exploring the benefits of being online.
  5. If in doubt, shout it out: the internet is a fantastic place but it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re protected! If you have any concerns about your online safety, talk to a loved one or report a scam to Action Fraud. There are many trusted organisations out there with good people who can help you.

Hi Digital complements Vodafone’s everyone connected campaign to tackle digital exclusion. Everyone.connected is working with charity partners, customers, and employees to provide free mobile connectivity to one million people by the end of 2022 and recently announced it has reached the 500,000 milestone.

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Notes to editors

Hi Digital is free and available to everyone. Find Hi Digital at or search Vodafone everyone connected to find out more.

Case study testimonials

Ismael lost sight in his left eye due to an infection and was left partially sighted in his right eye. In his sixties and divorced, Ismael lives alone. He decided to contact Independent Age and use their befriending and digital services. Through accessing support, he can now use online banking, as well as using technology to manage his health condition, catch up with friends, and access information.

He said: “I was previously so outgoing and confident, but losing my sight took away my charm and the person I was before. It felt like it was the end of my life, and I couldn’t see any future. I’ve found it harder to make friends since I’ve had a visual impairment. People look at you differently.

“Now I take part in regular Independent Age coffee mornings with other older people, using Zoom. Even though I haven’t met them, the group seem like friends. It feels like I am in the room with them even though I am alone in my apartment. It gives me something to look forward to.

“I’ve made use of technology and I feel that has opened possibilities. Every morning I say: ‘Good morning, Alexa’ and it talks to me. It feels like I’m talking to somebody. My daughter says I talk to it like it’s a person. Technology has changed my life.”

Older people could benefit from online doctor's consultations and other digital services
Older people could benefit from online doctor's consultations and other digital services

Yvonne DeBurgo, 77, from Oxfordshire said: “When I first tried going online, I was nervous and made a few mistakes. I relied heavily on my daughter-in-law and would call her constantly for advice. I got to the point where I was fed up with it and said I wasn’t going on it again, but my family encouraged me and said, ‘if you don’t try, you’ll never learn’.

“I started practising more and took some classes to help. I still remember sending my first email!

“Now, being online has opened up my whole world. It helps keep my brain active and stops me from feeling lonely. I can book doctor’s appointments, check my medical records, and it helps me financially, too – I check for financial support I might be entitled to, compare energy deals and sell items I no longer need.”

Research information and key stats

Independent market research agency One Poll conducted the survey among 1,987 over 65s in the UK. Of respondents, 1,089 reported feeling ‘completely comfortable’ online. The research took place between 10–22 August 2022. One Poll is a member organisation of the Market Research Society and abides by all codes of practice.

Regions with the most digitally disconnected over 65s:

  1. South East
  2. East of England
  3. Scotland
  4. South West
  5. North East

 Regions with the most digitally savvy over 65s:

  1. West Midlands
  2. North West
  3. Yorkshire & Humber
  4. London
  5. East Midlands

About Hi Digital

Hi Digital was developed by Vodafone Foundation and is currently available in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Luxembourg.

About Vodafone UK Foundation

Vodafone UK Foundation (a charitable incorporated organisation, registered charity number 118613; principal address: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, RG14 2FN) believes the power of connectivity can change lives and address some of the UK’s most pressing problems. The Foundation is part of a network of Vodafone Foundations who share a simple mission to invest in the communities in which Vodafone operates. Vodafone Foundations connect people and ideas with technology and funding, to help those already doing good work to achieve results faster, more cost effectively and with a bigger social impact. Through a strategy of Connecting for Good, the charity works in partnership with other charitable organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to create solutions that bring about long-term sustainable change and improve 480 million lives by 2025.

About Independent Age

Independent Age offers regular friendly contact, a strong campaigning voice and free, impartial advice on the issues that matter to older people: care and support, money and benefits, health and mobility. A charity founded over 150 years ago, it is independent so older people can be, too.

For more information, visit our website

You can arrange to speak to one of its advisers for free confidential advice and information. Freephone 0800 319 6789 or email

To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age and help older people stay independent, please visit

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693


Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587