IPSE: Broadband funding must ensure UK competitiveness

Thursday 22 December 2016

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has responded to the government’s announcement that it will release £440 million in funding for more widespread superfast broadband.

Jordan Marshall, IPSE policy development manager, commented: "The smallest businesses are dependent on fast, reliable broadband in order to operate, particularly as more people are choosing to work from home. It’s therefore essential that this money is well spent.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that the cash boost is from a combination of efficiency savings and a clawback mechanism which re-invests money when people take up superfast connections installed by the Broadband Delivery UK project.

According to new figures, around 1.5 million homes and businesses have now taken advantage and signed up for superfast connections in areas where the government has subsidised the rollout.

Around 4.5 million premises have been given access to superfast broadband through the government’s £1.7 billion Broadband Delivery UK rollout, with more than 1.5 million signing up for a faster connection.

It means that more than 90 per cent of the UK can now get superfast broadband. This is up from 45 per cent in 2010.

Commenting on the release of the funding, culture secretary Karen Bradley said: “Strong take-up and robust value for money measures mean £440 million will be available for reinvestment where it matters - putting more connections in the ground.

“This will benefit around 600,000 extra premises and is a further sign of our commitment to build a country that works for everyone.”

Her department said that superfast broadband is “ideal” for businesses as it allows “bosses to run websites and buy and sell online,” and that it is expected to carry on meeting these needs for years to come.

Mr Marshall explained that if the UK economy is to “maintain its competitiveness on the global stage”, it is essential that the hardest to reach areas are not overlooked. He went on to say that if the UK does not invest enough, there is the very real risk of falling behind the rest of Europe.

He added: “The importance of universal superfast broadband has also been highlighted by the government’s rollout of ‘Making Tax Digital’. Business owners based in remote locations could encounter serious problems submitting their tax returns if they don’t have broadband. We need to see no stone left unturned.”

By Victoria McDonnell

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