Opposition party Groen calls on the city council to keep non-digital services in the city. “Otherwise people risk falling by the wayside,” said Groen chairman Peter Billiet and councilor Heidi Schuddinck.
“Mypension, Itsme, Covid safe, banking apps,… Digitization has become an integral part of our society. That is very good because it has many advantages such as cost savings, faster service, flexibility, accessibility and the like. More and more we also see that online reservations or chat boxes are taking over from personal services. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that for some, digitization
difficult and thus constitutes a barrier on a number of levels”, said Peter Billiet. “Recently, a media report stated that 46% of Belgians are digitally vulnerable. Digital exclusion can lead to social exclusion: people fall further and further behind and become partially excluded. For example, those who are not digitally skilled have fewer opportunities on the labor market.”
“Local authorities and bank branches are phasing out their counter function and are increasingly only available online. The same goes for rights exploration or certain apps to get benefits or discounts for sports and cultural activities: it is precisely those people who need these services the most who have the least access to them and are left out. They have to rely on others to get in, which creates a significant barrier.”
“In concrete terms, we advocate reintroducing the appointmentless moments at Sanitary”, says Heidi Schuddinck. “At least one day of appointment-free and extension of opening hours outside office hours offer more options for those who cannot arrange everything from behind their laptop. If we want to have everyone on board, we must retain the non-digital services and continue to focus on support for digital services.”