Shropshire Council has added £1 million to its rural broadband scheme to provide faster broadband connections for residents in low connection areas across the county.
The extra funding helps rural business premises benefit from up to £7,000 for a faster broadband connection, while rural homes could benefit from a maximum of £4,000.
The £1 million funding can be used to 'top up' the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for organisational transformation and digital infrastructure, said: "I’m delighted to announce this investment to help rural homes and businesses get better broadband connections.
"Over 93 per cent of homes and businesses in the Shropshire Council area can already access a superfast broadband connection with speeds of 30Mbps. We’re topping-up the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme because we want even more premises to benefit.”
For homes, the maximum funding per voucher will be £4,000, thanks to an extra £2,500 per voucher from Shropshire Council. Eligible businesses can receive an additional £3,500, bringing the maximum funding per voucher to £7,000. To qualify for the scheme, residents and businesses must be located in a rural area and be unable to get broadband speeds of 100Mbps.
Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister, said: "To ‘level up’ communities across the UK, we’re working hard to spread the benefits of gigabit-capable broadband to the most remote towns and villages. I’m pleased to see Shropshire is the latest area to receive extra support through the government’s voucher scheme, thanks to a funding boost from the council. Whether it’s people’s homes or businesses struggling with slow speeds, I encourage those in rural areas to visit our website to check if they’re eligible for an upgrade.”
CPRE, the countryside charity, welcomed the Government announcement.
Daniel Carey-Dawes, head of rural economy and communities at CPRE, said: "It’s no secret that poor broadband coverage and quality across rural areas has been a major barrier to living in the countryside, especially for young people. The announcement by the government could not be more timely and will be welcome news for hard hit rural businesses and many families hoping for better connectivity.’
"Better broadband has real potential to open up the possibilities of remote working and could be the difference between young people continuing to live in the areas they grew up in or moving to the urban centres. We’ve long been calling for increased connectivity in the countryside making this a centrepiece of our coronavirus recovery manifesto. It’s clear the government has listened and we look forward to working to tackle rural isolation and improve connectivity right across the countryside."
The funding for the vouchers in the scheme is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until March 31 2021.
Visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/ to find out more.