NEARLY a fifth of people living in the Leigh area don't use the internet.

According to Wigan Council more than 43,800 people, 17 per cent of the borough's population, have never been online and the authority wants to change that.

Free training sessions are being planned because getting online is going to become increasing important when the government’s welfare reforms come into place in April.

Changes to the benefits system will mean people will have to register their claims online. If they don’t, they could miss out on money they are entitled to.

Clr Chris Ready, Wigan Council cabinet member for communications, said: “Many people can’t imagine life without the internet. They shop, bank, book holidays, watch TV and talk to their friends online.

"For those who claim benefits, welfare changes mean it will soon be essential if they want to carry on claiming.

“In the next few weeks, council staff, alongside our colleagues at Wigan and Leigh Housing, will be out offering free internet training sessions. I’d urge anybody who doesn’t use the web to go along.

“There’s nothing to fear. You don’t even need your own computer. You can access the web from a smart phone or a tablet device. And if you can’t get one of those, Wigan Council has up to 200 free to access computers available in Life Centres and libraries.”

The free training sessions start run until April at Atherton, Golborne, Hag Fold, Higher Folds, Hindley, Leigh, Lowton, Tyldesley and Westleigh.

To book a place on a course, ring 0800 389 7652, text 07797 806546 or Blackberry Messenger 2599A1C5.