Thousands of people without internet access or skills will be thrown into crisis when their benefits are replaced by the Tories' web-based universal credit in 2013, critics warned yesterday.
Nearly three million British households will be told to manage their own benefits online under the cost-cutting plans which aim to lump various current payouts into a single, often lower payment.
But politicians and campaigners said yesterday that the plans are being bulldozed through with little consideration for those who don't know how to use the internet, those who cannot access it or those in areas with a poor connection.
Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams said Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed that as many as 20 per cent of Welsh adults have never been online.
In Wales poor internet access in many parts of the country and a high proportion of benefit claimants threaten to plunge the planned system into chaos.
Throughout Britain 8.5 million have never used the internet while 14.5m have virtually no skills at all in using computer systems, he said.
Mr Williams added: "Around 100,000 households throughout the UK - already suffering hardship and many with children - face losing up to £28 a week under the harsher rules of the new benefit.
"These people will now also face the obstacle course of a complicated online system that will require guaranteed internet access in order to guarantee the correct payment of benefits."
Mr Williams called on the government to hold back on the plans until it can guarantee universal internet access for claimants.
The Child Poverty Action Group echoed the MP's warnings.
"There are some parts of the country where the geography is a barrier to reliable broadband access that will be needed," said a spokesman.
"There is also a major digital divide that means the poorest in Britain find it very challenging to find the funds for broadband from their meagre income."
A TUC spokesman said: "Ministers need to start considering the impact of their policies rather than basing reforms on blind faith and tabloid headlines."
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