Former prime minister Gordon Brown is calling for a national digital plan with free access to education information and reduced tariffs for low-income households.
His plea is supported by British inventor of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and former UK digital tsar Martha Lane Fox.
They want education and health information to be zero-rated and provided free of charge on the internet and free laptops for schoolchildren.
Their demands follow research for Brown’s Alliance for Full Employment (AfFE) which suggests that at least 400,000 children are still without access to devices to support their education at home.
Brown said: “In the last year, we have managed the most technologically sophisticated task of all – to discover and then inject vaccines into the arms of millions.
“But we are still far behind in the far simpler task of getting laptops into the hands of the thousands who need them and spreading access to the internet to everyone.
“Britain now needs a robust national plan to deliver digital access and inclusion to all our citizens.
“Few now doubt that first in this queue must be disadvantaged children, giving them access to the devices and tuition they need to catch up on and continue their education after the pandemic.”
The alliance is calling for the creation of a UK Digital Inclusion Taskforce, digital skills to be put on the same educational footing as literacy and numeracy and access to laptops for every child for at-home and in-class learning.
Brown added: “Putting digital skill learning targets on the same footing as literacy and numeracy at the core of the national education curriculum and supplying devices on which all children can learn in the classroom and remotely will future-proof our children against further damage to their education.”