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Broadband is an essential utility that should be available to all UK citizens, a new report has claimed.

The House of Lords Digital Skills Committee said everyone should be able to access and use the internet, regardless of their location or circumstances.

Its report proposed the population as a whole should have "unimpeded access" to digital technology, through the facilitation of universal internet access.

The Digital Skills Committee also called for the removal of broadband ‘not-spots’ - parts of Britain where homes and businesses are unable to use online services.

Baroness Morgan, Chair of the committee, described the report as being "a wake-up call to whoever forms the next government in May".

"Digital is everywhere, with digital skills now seen as vital life skills. It’s obvious, however, that we’re not learning the right skills to meet our future needs," she stated.

"The committee also found that internet provision in the UK needs a boost. It’s unacceptable that some urban areas still experience ‘not-spots’, particularly where the lack of internet directly affects the UK’s ability to compete."

Baroness Morgan claimed that, in some parts of the UK, as many as 20 per cent of the population has never gone online.

She said that only when the government treats the internet as a utility, as important and vital for people as water or electricity, will these issues be addressed.

"Our overwhelming recommendation is that the incoming government creates a Digital Agenda, with the goal of securing the UK’s place as a leading digital economy within the next five years," the peer added.

"Digital skills can no longer be dealt with by individual departments - this must all join up. We urge the new Government to create a Cabinet Minister post to steer this Digital Agenda through."

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