SMEs urged to claim broadband vouchers

The Government is urging SMEs make use of a scheme that can earn them a £2,500 voucher towards the installation of fibre optic broadband.

Since it was launched, more than 7,000 UK businesses and surrounding homes have received funding towards the installation of full fibre gigabit capable connections through the scheme.

The £67 million scheme was initially expected to run until March 2021, but high demand for vouchers means that funds are now expected to run out one year earlier, it could even be sooner if the scheme continues to grow as much as it already has.

Demand for the vouchers has been strongest in the South West (1613 vouchers issued), with the South East (927 vouchers issued) and Yorkshire (871 vouchers issued) following behind.

The scheme is being carried out in order to achieve the Government’s goal of providing the UK with ‘nationwide full fibre broadband coverage by 2033’and is operated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), who will carefully monitor the take-up of the offer following this change in order to determine if a higher-value voucher in some areas would be justified.

With the deadline for Making Tax Digital approaching it is increasingly important that businesses have access to high-speed broadband as businesses with a turnover of £85,000 or more will be required to upload their VAT figures to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) online from April 2019.

Government Minister for Digital, Margot James, said: “Our modern Industrial Strategy is clear on the importance of connectivity, as we build a full fibre Britain that is fit for the future.

“These vouchers provide practical and immediate help to firms struggling with slow broadband speeds. I encourage small businesses around the UK to apply now.”

The maximum value of the voucher has been reduced to £2,500 in a move that will encourage neighbouring businesses to pool their vouchers. It is hoped that the move will enable the scheme to help more than 1,000 additional businesses without the need for any more funding.