Broadband Connection scheme money still unclaimed header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has maintained that its scheme to provide money to get small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online is a success, despite the fact that only two thirds of the available funding has been claimed with days to go until the deadline.

Launched in 2013 with a £40 million pot, the Broadband Connection scheme was originally due to end in April 2015, but the deadline was extended to March 2016 as businesses were slow to claim the £3,000 grant.

Some of the reasons suggested for this are the inability to access a high-speed internet connection and the cost of line leases. Research from 2014 suggested that only six per cent of SMEs were able to upgrade to a superfast broadband package, despite the significant impact the technology can have on a business’ performance.

The grants are provided in the form of a voucher which can be spent with one of the government’s 800 approved providers.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: "More than 40,000 businesses have already taken up our offer which is aimed at boosting both their broadband speeds as well as their bottom line. 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."

Of the 40,000 SMEs that have successfully applied, 11,664 are based in London and 4,163 in Manchester, along with 4,016 from Leeds and Bradford. It has been reported

While the scheme is designed to help connect businesses to superfast broadband, some SMEs have used their vouchers for other internet upgrades, such as more secure data backup systems.

The business-focused initiative is operating alongside Broadband Delivery UK, which is an ongoing scheme working to bring broadband to 95 per cent of the UK’s most isolated communities.