Just £3m out of a total budget of £300m has been given out in grants to councils so far as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project. The Countryside Alliance sent a Freedom of Information Act request to all English councils (see attachment to check the council in your news area) asking how much money they had received from the BDUK fund and found just two councils had received £3m between them – 1% of the total money available.
The Countryside Alliance is campaigning for broadband for all English communities, not just those in urban areas.
So we are concerned that the BDUK project has been running for three years and yet we have not seen any government money or delivery on the ground improving broadband for householders.
Local authorities appear to be struggling to turn this government project into reality.
Crucially the government’s Digital by Default strategy, to put information and services online, should be fully implemented by the end of 2014/early 2015, so we are in danger of seeing a key government policy fail as rural communities will be unable to access many transactional services online.
Sir Barney White-Spunner, Countryside Alliance executive chairman said:
“The Countryside Alliance has frequently praised this Government’s commitment to improving rural broadband coverage and the funds it has put aside for councils are very welcome. However, as the responses to our FOI request show there is very little improvement on the ground for rural communities.
“It has been three years since the Chancellor announced the project and yet only £3million of government money has been spent. For rural people still struggling with no or an unreliable internet connection, this is simply not good enough. Unless there is a rapid rollout we are in danger of the digital divide growing even wider and the economic recovery of the country being held back.”
Notes for editors:
• £3m has been given out in Government grants to just two councils as part of the BDUK project between October 2010 – March 2013 – out of a total budget of £300m for England – that is just 1% of the total budget.
• £6.4m has been spent by councils towards delivering the BDUK project
• At least 3m homes will receive broadband through this project