Pros and Cons of Different Approaches
Councils and other organisations have two main options when providing digital devices to digitally excluded residents – lending and gifting.
Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages but, according to LOTI’s research, the majority of councils choose gifting schemes because providing someone with a device to keep is a more sustainable and more empowering solution and lending schemes require more resources to manage them.
Our research also shows that providing new devices over refurbished devices is more common, especially if they are needed quickly, although opting for refurbished devices can support councils’ green credentials.
Lending digital devices
- Less costly for the council as fewer devices need to be purchased.
- Opportunity for the council to provide digital skills support alongside the device loan and address more areas of digital exclusion.
- The council has more touch points with the resident who receives the device (e.g. for digital skills training), which could help to build trust and greater engagement.
- Requires more council resources and time to set up and manage the process, especially if additional digital skills support is provided.
- Councils remain responsible for devices, including their upkeep and storage – budget will be required to fix or replace damaged or out-of-date devices as well as secure storage space for devices when they are not on loan.
- Lending schemes only temporarily solve the problem of residents’ lack of access to devices.
Gifting digital devices
- The resident has permanent access to the device.
- Gifting schemes are less resource- and time-intensive than lending schemes (the devices simply need to be sourced and gifted).
- Once the device has been gifted, the council is no longer responsible for its upkeep or storage.
- If there is substantial demand for devices, gifting them could be costly (in comparison, lending schemes mean councils can purchase fewer devices and lend them to more residents).
- After gifting the device to a resident, the council may lose touch with them and not be able to offer additional digital skills support.
- There is no guarantee the recipient will use the device if data and/or training is not provided as part of the package.