UK government overhauls broadband business voucher scheme

Disappointing take-up leads to government re-think

Plans to help UK businesses with broadband connectivity are in disarray as the scheme has only managed to pay out 7.5 million from a pot of 100 million.

The debacle has left ministers scrambling to revamp the scheme that has seen only 3,000 vouchers handed out to companies with an average value of 2,500.

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The Super Connected Cities scheme is available to businesses in 22 UK cities and runs in parallel to BDUK, the project tasked with getting rural communities online.

The government has been forced to simplify the programme in order to boost uptake. Among the changes are removing the need for firms to fill out applications forms. Organisations can now get the grant with a call to a pre-approved supplier.

Firms that already have a supplier in mind can now just fill out a form to get quotes approved.

Broadband providers can also now apply to BDUK with a list of eligible connection costs, sidestepping the need for business to make an application.

Providers can also market approved broadband packages without the need for eligible businesses to fill out forms.

"We want to make sure that small businesses have the help and support they need to grow and prosper in our digital age. That is why we are providing these grants to help small businesses meet their challenges," said Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

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"I urge all eligible small businesses to apply straight away and help boost their businesses with faster broadband."

The scheme is available to firms employees less than 250 people and is encouraging businesses within the same building to pool vouchers together in order to create larger broadband rollouts.

Businesses can find out more about this offer and apply on its website at www.connectionvouchers.co.uk.

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