Businesses Encouraged To Use Broadband Grants

SME Owners Are Being Encouraged To Apply For Free Broadband Grants

19.08.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

Small business owners across the country are being encouraged to apply for free government grants worth up to £3,000 for broadband upgrades.

As part of its Broadband Connection Vouchers initiative, chief executives from 22 cities are able to cover the equipment and capital costs of upgrading to future-proof high-speed internet exchanges.

In recent months, the government has been keen to get SME owners to rely more heavily upon the digital economy, which allows them to export to new markets with a relatively low barrier to entry, reports Fresh Business Thinking.

But there have been concerns that small and medium-sized companies in some sectors have not heeded the coalition's advice in this regard and still operate without an online strategy.

The government now hopes that its Broadband Connection Vouchers programme, which is available in Bradford, London, Manchester, Derry, York, Oxford, Aberdeen and a number of other cities, will encourage some of these SMEs to make the transition to the online world.

To be eligible for government funding, a business must be registered as either an SME, social enterprise or sole trader, need to install a connection worth over £100 and not have received more than £120,000 in grants within the last three years.

In addition to this, the company must agree to sign up with a minimum six-month contract with its supplier and apply by March 31st 2015.

Speaking when the funding programme was announced, prime minister David Cameron said: "I want to give our small businesses every possible advantage to compete in the global race - and also the flexibility to locate or set up right across the UK.

"To do that we are working on a complete overhaul of the UK’s infrastructure; high-speed broadband is a vital part of this."

As part of its wider internet strategy, the government aims to improve superfast broadband coverage across the country to 90 per cent by 2016.

Expert Opinion
For many small businesses, the internet and the huge opportunities it can offer are a key battleground for taking on and competing with larger organisations. In some many industries, online services are a key part of providing the best service and support to their clients and customers.

"However, it is of course vital that small businesses have access to suitable services if they are going to benefit from such facilities, which is why initiatives such as this grant scheme are so important to ensuring SMEs have high-quality broadband at their disposal.

"We would urge small businesses to look into how they could benefit from this, but also urge them to speak to legal advisers for further advice on ensuring they meet key data regulations when operating via online services."
Steven Beahan, Partner