Vodafone: Tech is catalyst for levelling up post-COVID-19
Vodafone predicts that technology will be a key catalyst for the levelling up of UK communities in this pandemic-afflicted economy.
Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, and member of the Government-backed Covid Recovery Commission which looks at the economic and social impact on communities throughout the UK, strongly argues for a tech-drive recovery,
“Equipping people with the connectivity tools they need to take an active part in the digital society will be crucial,” Jeffrey told the Vodafone UK News Centre.
“We want to ensure that no-one is left behind in this tech-led economic recovery. And wireless mobile technologies like 5G will be the quickest way to achieve this,” he said.
The findings of the first report, Levelling up Communities, reveal the true impact COVID-19 is having on people and businesses across the UK.
“Deaths are higher in deprived areas; mental health is worse, unemployment is higher. While the north-west of England has the highest number of people (1.6 million) living in deprived neighbourhoods in the UK, inequality affects more affluent areas, too,” comments Jeffrey.
The Government has declared a commitment to ‘levelling-up’, where it wants to bring less affluent regions up to the level of more affluent regions. The Commission’s research suggests tackling inequality from the grass roots upwards.
“The proportion of people experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of depression has increased by 14% points among those who say they couldn’t afford to pay a bill they weren’t expecting. This presents us with some big challenges,” says Jeffrey.
He points out that local businesses can play a vital role, working with government and the communities they serve, to build a fairer economy for all.
“Vodafone is a technology communications company, but we also have a strong retail presence and offices across the country. Our colleagues work in the heart of local communities, so we know our customers well. We need to harness this local intelligence for the benefit of all.
John Allan CBE, Chair, Covid Recovery Commission comments in the report: “A levelling up agenda which targets interventions at the local level will have the best chance of success in reducing long-running inequalities. It is critical that we provide a ladder of opportunity to those communities most in need.”
The Commission will be producing two more papers before the end of the year with a final report to follow, hopefully in February 2021 in which the will be fleshing out plans and suggestions for how they can tackle pockets of deprivation and inequality and help all communities in the UK to flourish – mentally, physically and economically.