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People who fail to embrace the internet risk missing out on a range of opportunities, according to one online advocate.

Abi Stevens of UK online centres noted that broadband is becoming increasingly important to modern life, with both government and commercial services now moving online.

She suggested that the internet not only helps businesses, public bodies and consumers save money, but also improves the quality of services available.

"Those left behind are unable to get that easy and immediate access to information, the quick transactions or the special deals," Ms Stevens said.

"At work, around 90 per cent of all new jobs now require internet skills, with a significant proportion now advertised and applied for only over the internet."

She added that, at home, the internet is helping people to keep in touch, pursue hobbies, conduct homework and even manage household finances.

Earlier this week, the Office for National Statistics reported that 9.2 million people in the UK - mainly those aged over 65 - have never used the internet.

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