Broadband: Rural Areas:Written question - 72901

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Asked on: 13 July 2020
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Broadband: Rural Areas
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department has taken to promote the £200 million available in vouchers to SMEs under the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme.
A
Answered by: Matt Warman
Answered on: 21 July 2020

The scheme is primarily supplier led. We have provided generic marketing materials for suppliers to use but they in turn have run significant marketing campaigns and continue to actively promote the scheme.

Building Digital UK (BDUK) also works closely with local authorities and the devolved administrations across the UK to promote rural vouchers with SMEs and residents in their respective geographies. BDUK has provided a toolkit of marketing materials to local authorities to help them promote the scheme: leaflets, pull-up banners, template releases, draft letters, social media images for posts, and case studies.

They are also provided with monthly progress reports on the (now closed) Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, but this reporting continues for the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme. These allow local authorities to be kept abreast of progress, and also allow them to request data to follow up on their own case studies.

The rural voucher scheme has also been promoted through other government department networks via DEFRA, MHCLG and BEIS. We have also done demand stimulation work with Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors and discussed with HMRC the possibility of putting some marketing materials in with business tax reminders.

The scheme has been further promoted through four top-up voucher schemes in Wales, Kent, West Sussex and Borderlands, where the announcement has generated media and online coverage along with targeted communications through to parish councils and rural community groups. We are in discussion with a number of (c.24) local authorities about launching similar top-up schemes.

Finally, a pilot promotional campaign, which has been delayed due to COVID-19, is about to go live in three areas of the UK to test whether aggregated community demand can be met by suppliers. This would give us a consumer led proposition to sit alongside the supplier led approach.

Over the past two years, across the two schemes, total voucher requests have been nearly 74,000 vouchers (including ineligible requests). Details of where vouchers have been requested/issued can be seen here: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/home/about-the-scheme/

On zooming in, each pin represents a postcode area with active vouchers. Clicking on a pin shows how many issued/connected vouchers are in that postcode area.

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