News that the UK Government and Welsh Government have worked together, to double the value of broadband vouchers to help rural communities, has been welcomed by local Member of the Welsh Parliament, Russell George.
The MS for Montgomeryshire welcomed the news that over 10,000 rural homes and businesses in Powys are now eligible to apply for topped up vouchers.
The vouchers subsidise the costs of installing next-generation, gigabit-capable broadband.
Residents and businesses will now have access to more funding for better broadband, as the Welsh Government “tops up” the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
The scheme helps people with funding to cover the upfront costs of installing new gigabit-capable internet connections.
Vouchers worth up to £3,500 for rural SMEs and up to £1,500 for rural residential premises have been available in Wales since May 2019. The Welsh Government is now working with the UK Government to provide an additional £3,500 for SMEs and £1,500 for homes. This means that the maximum funding available through each voucher has doubled and is now £7,000 for SMEs and £3,000 for residential premises.
Mr George is now urging businesses and communities across North Powys to apply for these vouchers so they can future-proof their internet connections and be ready to reap all the economic and social benefits brought by new advances in technology.
Following the announcement, Mr George said:
"The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated how dependent we are on digital connectivity, whether it is working from home or home schooling, so I welcome the announcement that the Welsh and UK Government are working together to help homes in Montgomeryshire access digital connectivity which other parts of the country take for granted.
"Many of the final 5% of homes in the UK which currently don't have high speed broadband are in North Powys so this commitment to provide additional funding is welcome.
"Some residents and businesses have received eye-watering estimates for bringing fibre broadband to their homes so I'm hoping that the additional funding will allow more people to obtain a decent broadband connection.
"Broadband is an essential part of modern life and is no longer a "nice to have" luxury. It is also essential for a Mid Wales economy which will take some time to recover following the economic hardship of Covid-19.
"So, from my perspective, while this is very welcome news, I will keep pressing until such time as all people and businesses in Montgomeryshire are able to receive decent connectivity."