The 'App Gap': Why It’s so Difficult for Low Income People to Apply for Benefits for Which They Are Eligible

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

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