Councillor Ged Bell of Newcastle City Council
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey urges businesses to apply for £3,000 broadband grants before it’s too late
More than 40,000 small and medium businesses (SMEs) across the UK have now benefited from the Government’s Broadband Connection voucher scheme – with this region notching up more than 1,200 successful applications.
Latest figures published today show that the scheme, which helps SMEs get connected to superfast broadband, has seen a huge surge in demand in recent months, but time is running out for businesses to take advantage of the initiative.
The Government made £40m available in 2015/16 for the scheme, and the vouchers are being issued on a “first come, first served” basis. Funds have not been ring fenced to individual cities, and with more than 1,000 applications now being received each week, the Government is encouraging all eligible businesses to apply before the available funds are exhausted.
The scheme – administered locally by Newcastle City Council’s Go Digital Newcastle project - was rolled out to the whole of the North East region in May, following its success in Newcastle. It allows businesses to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband.
So far, more than 40,000 businesses in the 50 cities across the UK participating in the scheme have had grants approved. The scheme has helped a huge variety of businesses to date, including architects, estate agents, mechanics, events coordinators cafes, graphic designers and caterers.
Cabinet Member for Investment and Development at Newcastle City Council, Cllr Ged Bell, said he was delighted at the success of the Go Digital Newcastle project.
“Superfast broadband is providing a real economic boost to businesses in Newcastle and across the region,” he said.
“We’re keen to encourage as many local businesses as possible to take up the offer and take advantage of the benefits that superfast broadband can bring.
“Giving Newcastle and the rest of the North East to super-connectivity puts us ahead of the game in making our businesses more competitive and in attracting companies to invest here.”
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “I'm delighted that 1,213 businesses the North East have already taken up our offer and are now getting much faster internet speeds as a result.
“Businesses need to act now to ensure they don’t miss out on this fantastic offer and I’m urging all eligible businesses to apply now before it’s too late.”
The grant, in the form of a voucher, is part of the Government’s transformation of the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create and attract new jobs and investment, and making the UK the best place in the world to do business.
Vouchers issued as at 25 August 2015:
- Scotland - 2087
- Wales - 2042
- Northern Ireland - 1867
- North West - 6344
- North East - 1291
- Yorks and Humber - 5734
- Midlands - 5179
- London - 11664
- East of England - 1407
- South East - 1592
- South West – 1734
Benefits small businesses are seeing as a result of a faster connection include:
- Growing and accessing new markets through better communication with customers and suppliers
- Increasing security through fast secure back-up of data
- Increasing productivity and improving customer service through faster upload and download speeds
Businesses can find out if they are eligible and get more details on the broadband connection voucher scheme at www.connectionvouchers.co.uk