An ambitious plan to tackle Scotland's chronic problem of digitally excluded citizens is set to make "real progress" in 2015, according to the man charged with helping to boost the country's economic performance by getting its most disadvantaged communities online.

In an interview with the Sunday Herald, Chris Yiu, director of digital participation at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), outlined the progress so far in formulating a raft of initiatives designed to tackle an area in which Scotland lags the rest of the UK. The SCVO spearheads a Scottish Government-funded drive to tackle the ­disproportionately large number of Scots unable or unwilling to enter the online world, with a high concentration in Glasgow.

As well as creating the first comprehensive directory of the 300 sites offering to teach online skills, the SCVO is now the portal to a £200,000 Scottish Government fund to support schemes offering online access. It also provides access to a European Regional Development Funded-scheme offering six to 12- week contracts to technically skilled graduates to serve as digital mentors.

Yiu, formerly head of digital government at centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, also pointed to the success of a new "digital participation charter", to which 80 Scottish businesses and other organisations have already signed up. He said this demonstrated widespread willingness to "show public commitment to increasing digital participation and readiness to stump up resources".

"Tackling Scotland's digital exclusion is a £100 million problem rather than a £1m problem," Yiu said. "At this stage we are backing different ideas to find out which is the most effective way to get to the hard-to-reach people, and through this we will find out where we should be putting our resources."

"The stuff we have put in place over the last nine months will help us make good progress in addressing the challenges in 2015. We will find out what has worked and this will give us a way to be more focused and make a case for getting the money that will put digital participation in the mainstream. I'm really pleased we are already in a position to make grants for projects that are doing things that will make a real difference to initiatives we support."

Earlier this month the SCVO announced the first round of award offers from its Digital Participation Challenge, funded by the Scottish Government. Some 71 organisations applied for funding for a wide range of projects aimed at helping to get people online and increasing the digital capability of third-sector organisations across Scotland. Of these, 25 were offered direct support, with awards varying from just more than £800 to £15,000, with a total award portfolio of about £140,000.

Supported projects include Home Start Majik, a Tarbert-based organisation working with disadvantaged and socially isolated rural parents in Argyll and Bute, increasing the digital skills of staff and volunteers to increase their confidence to support and train parents in accessing digital media.

Another was the Scottish Council on Deafness, which aims to rectify low levels of employment, income and quality of life among deaf people, in a project that will "improve the technical infrastructure to support the development of audio and visual communication channels".

A second round of applications to the Digital Participation Challenge opens on January 12, with a closing date of February 13.

A recent Ipsos MORI poll found that Scotland is home to 13% of all those in the UK who lack basic online skills - a proportion far greater than its 8.5% of the total population.

A 2013 study for the Carnegie UK Trust looked at the concentration of the problem in Glasgow. The report, Across the Divide: Tackling Digital Exclusion In Glasgow, made stark reading for the Scottish Government, finding that 60% of Glasgow's lower-income households do not have a broadband connection, as opposed to 45% in the same income bracket in the rest of the UK.

In the UK as a whole, an estimated 24% of the population is offline. In Scotland, that figure is 32%, and in Glasgow it rises to at least 40% - as many as 115,000 households in the city have no internet access.

"This is deeply concerning," the report said. "Many of these ­households could arguably benefit the most from the advantages that the internet can offer … [Glasgow's low take-up is] only likely to widen existing inequalities [and represents] both a symptom and a cause of poverty."