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 today show.
The Government’s Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme was designed to get SMEs moving into a faster digital market and connected to superfast broadband.
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 speeds. We’re transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination.
- Scotland 2,899
- Wales 2,887
- Northern Ireland 2,411
- North West 8,254
- North East 1,721
- Yorks and Humber 7,377
- Midlands 6,799
- London 14,545
- East of England 1,459
- South East 3,114
- South West 3,630
(as reported by cities on 6 November 2015)
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 benefitting from a broadband connection delivered by the scheme are reporting, on average, a £1,300 per year increase in profits, with a new job being created for every four new connections. This means that for every £1 the UK Government invested in the scheme, more than £5 will be returned to the UK economy.
Benefits small businesses are seeing as a result of a faster connection include:
- Growing and accessing new markets through better communication with customer and suppliers.
- Increased security through fast secure backup of data.
- Increased productivity and improving customer service through faster upload and download speeds.
- Increased efficiency and employee effectiveness.
Whilst the scheme has now closed, its success has stimulated the market, with some suppliers now offering similar support through offers of free installation and equipment. This means that those eligible businesses who didn’t apply for one of the Government’s Broadband Connection vouchers still have time to apply for a free or discounted broadband boost for their business.
Further information on the benefits of the scheme is available on the connection vouchers website.