Right-wing think-tank Policy Exchange has suggested that an army of internet-smart pensioners should be entrusted with the task of getting even more elderly people online. This is a necessary step, according to the think-tank, to ensure that elderly people do not become isolated.
It has been suggested that they could be paid as much as £30,000 per annum to act as a 'silver sidekick' for their fellow pensioners. In this capacity, they will be expected to educate them on how to use the internet. The UK government is determined to push more of its day-to-day operations online and is, therefore, keen to see more elderly people made aware of the advantages of the web.
Official figures show that as many as5.4 million people over 65 do not use the internet in the UK. This is despite the factor that the government is pushing basic functions, like pension payments, online.
Policy Exchange has argued that the proposal would help to ensure that a lack of technological expertise does not see elderly people cut adrift from friends and family. And it observed that while the move would cost the government as much as £150 million, it would help them to save between £20 million and £75 million overall.
"It is important that this network is made up of people who are able to relate to the particular needs of someone who has never used the internet before," commented Sarah Fink, author of the report. "That's why the government should encourage ‘silver surfers’ to become 'silver sidekicks'."
Annika Small, chief executive of the internet charity Nominet Trust, added that all groups of people need support to use the internet and understand its benefits. "From alleviating social isolation, bringing together communities, paying bills and now accessing public services, online can improve lives," she said.
Do you think that this sounds like a worthwhile investment?