Govt suspends SME broadband vouchers header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

A popular government scheme that offered vouchers to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get connected to fibre broadband has been suspended without warning.

Last year, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport extended the deadline for SMEs seeking up to £3,000 from a total fund of £100 million, simplified the application process and added another £40 million to the pot, due to low levels of uptake.

In September, it was reported that 40,000 SMEs around the UK had claimed a voucher, suggesting that its popularity seems to have dramatically increased, given that the money was expected to last into November.

However, in the middle of October, businesses across the country received letters saying the scheme has been suspended with immediate effect, pending confirmation that all of the money has been claimed.

Alex Hodgson of One2Call (which was responsible for handling £125,000 of the vouchers) told the Yorkshire Post: “It’s the suddenness which will cause us issues, and we’re going to have a look this morning at how many customers will be affected.

“Even a week’s notice would have given us time to wrap up all the loose ends, but just suddenly ending the scheme like this will leave some customers in limbo.

“The scheme administrators have been very open about the fact that this is a finite funding stream, and have continually given us updates on when they expected the funds to run out, based on the rate of consumption.”

However, he said that the penultimate update he received claimed that there was still £4 million left in the wider fund.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the suspension of the scheme, and said that it was pleased that so many SMEs across 50 UK cities had been able to take advantage of the vouchers.