Press release

Welsh small businesses given big boost through Government broadband scheme

Alun Cairns: "Wales is home to some exciting and innovative companies, who are seizing the opportunities that superfast broadband provides"

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  • Government scheme has helped create more jobs and increase profits for SMEs
  • Smaller suppliers have benefited most from the scheme
  • Suppliers now waiving installation cost as result of scheme

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. 5% of these businesses are located in Wales, with over 2,800 businesses taking up the offer.

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.

Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns said:

Wales is home to some exciting and innovative companies, who are seizing the opportunities that superfast broadband provides.

The broadband connection voucher scheme has proved hugely successful in Wales, enabling over 2,800 businesses to get a step ahead of their competitors.

Over the coming months, the UK Government will continue the rollout of superfast broadband across Wales to drive growth, boost the Welsh economy and ensure more people in Wales can benefit from the digital revolution.

Vouchers issued:

Region Vouchers Issued
Scotland 2,899
Wales 2,887
Northern Ireland 2,411
North West  8,260
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

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 here.

City by city numbers are as reported by the participating cities on 6 November

City Vouchers Issued
Aberdeen 367
Belfast 2,142
Birmingham 3,273
Bournemouth 901
Brighton and Hove 1,185
Bristol 2,222
Cambridge 826
Cardiff 2,083
Carlisle 52
Chelmsford  79
Coventry 1,458
Derby 445
Derry 269
Dundee 80
Edinburgh 1,200
Exeter 153
Glasgow  902
Gloucester  178
Hull 1,137
Inverness  77
Ipswich 246
Kent Towns 144
Leeds 4,738
Leicester 590
Liverpool 1,844
London 14,545
Greater Manchester 6,013
Middlesbrough 247
Milton Keynes 490
Newcastle 1,376
Newport 274
Norwich 85
Nottingham 419
Oxford 590
Perth 133
Peterborough 120
Plymouth 110
Portsmouth 315
Preston 351
Reading 93
Sheffield 751
Southampton 297
Southend-On-Sea 103
Stirling 140
Stoke 219
Sunderland 98
Swansea 530
Swindon 66
Wolverhampton 395
York 751
Total 55,102

 * based on a survey of a sample of businesses with connections live for between 3 and 9 months.

Published 16 November 2015