The 'App Gap': Why it’s so difficult for low income people to apply for benefits for which they are eligible

Posted
July 11, 2018
Article Source
Open Policy Ontario

Information from John Stapleton, Open Policy: What does an applicant need to apply for a benefit from home?

For an applicant to apply for most benefits from their own home, an applicant must have:

  • A reliable address
  • A working smartphone
  • A computer with internet

It is also desirable to have:

  • A printer
  • Up to date software for downloads
  • Storage for filing

Low income applicants often do not have the basics to apply from home:

  • They do not have a reliable address
  • Live in an illegal rooming house where mail routinely goes missing or is stolen/redirected
  • Are not permitted to use their preferred 'safe' address
  • Move often
  • Are evicted

They do not have a smartphone:

  • Smartphone plans start with free phones at $300 a year with no data and limited calling
  • Do not have retail credit
  • Are unbanked

They do not have a computer with internet access:

  • Computers are expensive
  • Software is expensive
  • Data plans are expensive

They cannot download the latest software

They do not have a printer

They do not have safe storage

Read more: The 'App Gap': Why it’s so difficult for low income people to apply for benefits for which they are eligible