Rural Britain is in danger of fostering a new underclass of people unable to exploit the benefits of the knowledge economy.
A report published by thinktank Local Futures last night asks whether we are seeing the development of a "mobile underclass" – people without access to transport, work opportunities and ICT.
The report On the Move: A look at the social uses of mobile and wireless communications warns that people are in danger of becoming excluded from our "increasingly mobile society".
"The 'knowledge economy' in the UK currently threatens to bypass large areas of rural Britain," the report warns, noting that rural areas are also under-served by the build-out of a broadband infrastructure.
"Teleworking and teleshopping, not to mention remote access to public services like health and education, should find a ready market in the countryside …[but it is urban areas which] are currently providing richer picking grounds for both remote shopping and working."
It continues: "This is partly due to the paucity of infrastructure in rural areas and while most rural dwellers can access the Internet via dial-up narrowband services, broadband…has yet to make much impact."
The report suggests that wireless solutions such as fixed wireless could be the answer and cals for an "imaginative and bold" response especially from the public sector. Yeah right. ®