Region’s firms rush for better broadband

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MORE than 55,000 small and medium businesses (SMEs), employing up to one million people across the UK, have taken advantage of a Government scheme to boost their broadband connectivity, figures published recently show.

The Government’s Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme was designed to get SMEs moving into a faster digital market and connected to superfast broadband.

And the North West has the highest take-up rate outside London with 8,260.

The initiative – which has now allocated all of the £40m available funding since April 2015 – gave businesses the chance to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband.

Hugely successful, the scheme has helped a variety of businesses, including architects, estate agents, mechanics, events coordinators, cafes, graphic designers and caterers.

Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “Our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been a tremendous success. More than 55,000 small businesses across the UK have taken up the offer, many of which are already seeing significant boosts to their business as a result of improved broadband speedss.”!

Cabinet member for resources at Preston City Council, Coun Martyn Rawlinson, added: “Preston City Council was delighted to be involved with this scheme and it’s fantastic it has proved so popular.

“For the North West to have the highest take up outside London for this scheme shows the passion for business in the area.

“We are always happy to help people and businesses to invest in Preston and promote the county.”

Businesses were able to use their voucher to get a broadband connection from a wide variety of suppliers.

More than 800 suppliers participated in the scheme and the vast majority (86 per cent) of the value of the scheme went to smaller suppliers around the UK.

The “big three” Internet Service Providers –- BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk – accounted for only 14 per cent of the total value of the vouchers.

Businesses taking part have reported, on average, a £1,300 per year increase in profits.