The Government’s broadband connection voucher scheme, which has been formulated to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) install superfast broadband, is being activated across the UK. The system is already in operation in many cities, and already firms are beginning to benefit from better and faster broadband.
The Government recently confirmed that SMEs can access a grant that could be worth between £100 and £3,000, and 14,000 companies have already installed a superfast broadband connection of 30 Mbps+. The initial voucher proposal was backed up by £100 million from the Urban Broadband Fund’s £150 million. Cities where the scheme is in operation include Aberdeen, Leeds, Newcastle, Newport, Oxford and many more. The Urban Broadband Fund was increased in 2014 by £40 million, and from April this year there are in total 50 UK cities that can offer the vouchers. The scheme is expected to finish in March 2016.
The limited funding for each city is available on a first come, first served basis. Some of the new cities where the vouchers will be offered from this month include Bournemouth, Norwich, Swansea, Glasgow, Stoke-on-Trent and Plymouth.
Information given by Broadband Delivery UK (part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) revealed that the latest voucher uptake figure is around 16,000. Firms on average are receiving about £2,000, and the bulk of the available fund is still unused. Not surprisingly, the most significant uptake by SMEs is in London, a city that has been involved in the Voucher scheme since it was opened. Other major centres where the uptake by firms has been brisk are Manchester, Bradford and Leeds.
There is no doubt that faster broadband speeds for businesses up and down the UK will result in knock-on benefits, and the voucher system will hopefully be taken up by many more SMEs.