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Broadband boost of £40 million for Scottish businesses

Small businesses across four more Scottish cities will now be able to be able to apply for a share of £40 million of UK government funding to connect them to faster, better quality broadband, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has announced on a visit to Glasgow.

From 1 April, small businesses, charities, social enterprises and sole traders across Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling and Dundee will be able to benefit from the scheme, which is already running in Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen, as well as 19 other cities across the UK.

Small businesses, charities, social enterprises and sole traders in these cities will be able to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband. This will make it easier for them communicate with their customers, and attract new jobs and investment, as part of the government’s ambition to make the UK the best place in Europe to do business.

The government has also announced yesterday that the rural superfast broadband scheme has now successfully passed 220,000 Scottish homes and businesses. The programme will see superfast services available to 95% of premises by 2017.

Speaking Glasgow, Danny Alexander, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said yesterday:

For many businesses across Scotland and the UK, high speed broadband isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

And today I can announce that I have extended the broadband connection vouchers programme – which provides grants to small businesses needing to upgrade their broadband – to four more cities across Scotland.

Businesses in Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling and Dundee will benefit from faster connections, downloads and uploads, meaning that they can communicate better with customers across the world.

It is extremely frustrating that some small businesses in cities can’t get the broadband connection they need – these vouchers will help them to change that.

Having grown up on a remote island, I know what a huge difference being connected makes to our rural communities.

That’s why I’m also proud to say that the UK government’s rural broadband programme has now passed 220,000 premises across rural Scotland. For the first time, people in these areas will be able to sign up for superfast broadband, and experience the benefits of being able to stay in touch, do deals and communicate more effectively than ever before across Scotland.

It is this approach – devolution, but backed up by targeted government activity and government funding – which we believe offers cities the best of both worlds.

Where the economic power of the UK can have a positive effect, then we will deploy it.

And where we can give greater autonomy to our cities and regions, then we will do so.

This is the approach which we have taken on the other great devolution story of the past four years.

At Autumn Statement 2014, the government announced that a further £40m was being provided to extend the Connection Voucher Scheme to March 2016 and to further cities. Additional cities from across the UK will be named in due course. Vouchers will be available in all new cities from 1 April 2015.

Image courtesy of btphotosbduk on Flickr, used under Creative Commons.

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