By Mark Jackson, ISPreview UK | August 20th, 2014
More than 375 businesses in Leeds and Bradford have taken up the Government’s Broadband Connection Vouchers scheme, which offers grants worth up to £3,000 to help SME firms install a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service in any of 22 cities across the United Kingdom. As a result they’re no.1 in the top 10 cities (outside London) claiming vouchers.
Apparently the total allocated funding for all 375 vouchers comes to £800,000 and another 1,200+ businesses in the area have already “partially completed” the application process. The update follows recent concerns that the voucher scheme was continuing to suffer from low uptake, with only around 4% (1,500 approved applications) of the £100m fund being drawn down (here).
Phil Cole, Leeds City Council’s Head of Business Support, said:
“The offer of up to £3,000 of funding to improve your business is a compelling one, and we have seen over 90 per cent of completed applications succeed in attracting awards of an average of £2,200 for IT hardware to enable connections to superfast services.
The improvements in productivity, reliability of access, and the new applications and technologies that can only be used with superfast connectivity, make it a no-brainer for businesses that want to compete with the best in the UK and further afield.
Ordinarily applicants hear within 24 hours if their application is successful, and nine out of ten completed applications receives a grant to cover all the technical work needed to equip their business for the fastest available internet access.”
Top 10 Cities for Connection Vouchers (outside London) – June 2014 Data
1. Leeds & Bradford
8. Brighton & Hove
The scheme is expected to run until March 2015 and hopefully the coming months will see even more uptake. In the meantime businesses outside of the 22 cities, especially those in rural areas, will continue to be frustrated at the lack of support.
One small bonus is that the voucher scheme can now also be taken by smaller firms, self-employed individuals and start-ups.