There’s often a lot of chatter online about which websites are performing best, and where the Web population is gravitating towards. Indeed, as we recently reported, UK visits to video websites increased by a third in the past year. But have you ever considered the section of society that never actually go online?

If you think the number is insignificant, think again. As The Telegraph reports, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that in the three months to the end of September 2011, the number of UK adults who had never visited a website fell by almost 300,000, which is a big drop compared to the previous quarter which only saw a decrease of 12,000. However, 8.43m adults – or 16.8% – of the UK population have still never been online.

Back in July 2010, at a time when over 10m people in the UK had never been online, the UK government announced that it was looking to get everyone of a working age using the Internet by 2015. Using the latest quarterly drop as the benchmark, that means 1.2m people extra will be going online each year, which suggests they will fall short of their goal by quite a few million. That said, with connected devices becoming increasingly ubiquitous, the opportunities available for people to go online will rise too, meaning that the drop-rate should hopefully accelerate.

Internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, who is the government’s so-called “digital champion”, is running the Race Online campaign, which is seeking to create 1.9 million new Internet users by the end of this year, with the figure currently sitting at 1.6m since 2009.

Home Race Online 2012 1321448035545 520x209 More Than 8m Britons Have Never Been Online
The latest figures also revealed that the number of people who have never used the Web decreased across all age groups except in the youngest, which actually showed a tiny increase. But 98.6% of 16-24 year-olds have used the Internet.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest gap gap lies in older age-groups, and this is where the biggest decrease was found, with 164,000 more people aged 75 or over accessing the Internet. That said, over 70% of over-75s still haven’t been online.

Accessibility is clearly an issue the government will need to face up to, as the survey showed that more than half the people who have never been online are disabled.