Digital Levelling Up in Sussex

2 November 2022



Brighton and Hove, and the surrounding area in Sussex, has a thriving digital economy with a tech sector worth more than £1billion annually.  But not everyone is a part of this digital transformation. University of Sussex research shows that among people living on an annual household income of £25,000 or less, one in five never use the internet.   

So who is being left behind by this digital transformation of everyday life?  And with jobs and services increasingly moving online, how can we imagine a more inclusive digital future for Sussex? 

This panel event, part of the Digit Debates series from the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre, in conjunction with the Institute of Development Studies and the Euroship project, will explore the impact of digital exclusion and how local initiatives can help deliver a more inclusive digital future.  It draws on research carried out in conjunction with Digital Brighton & Hove / Citizens Online by Dr Becky Faith and Kevin Hernandez into the effects of digital exclusion in Brighton and Hove during the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the extent of digital poverty in low-income households in the UK.   

What could a place-based digital inclusion strategy that meets the needs of all its citizens look like in Sussex?  Dr Faith will set out what the research tells us and discuss with Simon Hughes, Head of Digital and Customer Service, Mid Sussex County Council, and Emma Daniel, Partnerships Manager, Citizens Advice Brighton & Hove, how we can create a more inclusive digital transformation in Sussex. 

The event will be chaired by Dr Rachel Verdin, Research Fellow, Euroship Project, University of Sussex.


Becky Faith is a Research Fellow and Co-Leader of the Digital and Technology cluster. Her professional experience and research interests encompass gender and technology, mobile communication studies, human computer interaction and technology for social change. She has fifteen years’ strategic and programme experience working in Information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) and technology for human rights organisations. She started her career in digital start-ups, working on the UK’s first e-commerce platforms in the 1990s. 

Emma Daniel is the Partnership Manager at Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove, she coordinates the advice provision within the city, connecting the work to food poverty, fuel poverty and other workstreams across the city’s welfare ecosystem. She wrote a Post Pandemic Needs Assessment outlining the scale of poverty in the city due to the Cost of Living crisis.

Simon Hughes is a Director at Mid Sussex District Council. Simon has worked in social enterprises, government and health. He has an interest in how communities of interest and place innovate and collaborate. Simon’s career started in mental health involving those who used services to redesign them to better meet their needs. He moved on to housing and other services for vulnerable people, with brief forays into Government to advise on working upstream to reduce the need for demand led services.

He has appeared on national, local news and phone-ins, often unintentionally. He is passionate about helping people engage with and build their own capacity to shape change.

He is a trustee of StayUpLateUK and shamelessly takes every opportunity to plug Gig Buddies (go online and find out about it).

He pretends to cycle race but has no talent whatsoever in this area.

Further reading

Digital Poverty in the UK, Faith, B., Hernandez, K. and Beecher, J. (2022), IDS Policy Briefing 202.

Measuring digital exclusion, Digit Data Commentary 01 (Hernandez and Faith, 2022)

Digital Connections and Inclusion in Brighton and Hove: A response to the COVID pandemic  (Research project)

The post-pandemic impact on poverty and financial inclusion in Brighton and Hove 2022 -2023, Daniel, E. (2022), Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove.

Euroship Project: Closing Gaps in European Social Citizenship (Research project)

Comparing the digital transformation of welfare delivery in Europe (O’Reilly and Verdin, 2021), Euroship Working Paper No. 8

This event is part of the Festival of Social Science 2022.