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Broadband: Finance

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 166424, tabled on 10 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 8 March 2021 to Question 162594 on Broadband: Finance, when his Department plans to allocate the remaining £3.8 billion of funding for the UK gigabit programme.

Answered on

16 March 2021

The current spending profile takes into account extensive engagement by the department with suppliers in the telecoms industry, and reflects what we believe the industry will be able to deliver by 2025 in these hard to reach areas at this stage. The remaining £3.8 billion of funding for the UK Gigabit Programme will be allocated at future spending reviews, the profile of which will be determined by further engagement with the market to understand their delivery ambitions.

Delivering gigabit capable broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK requires more industry resources than delivering in commercially viable areas. However, we have been clear that the £1.2 billion is a floor not a ceiling. We continue to work with suppliers to accelerate this investment and explore options for releasing additional funding in the spending review period to 2025. We are improving conditions for the commercial sector, who will deliver the majority of gigabit capable coverage, through new legislation, planning and streetworks support. We are also continuing to explore methods for increasing capacity in the sector. This includes incentivising the training and employment of telecoms workers through interventions such as the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs, the Apprenticeship Levy and the recently announced £21m expansion of Technical Skills Bootcamps.

The Government will continue working with the industry to identify how we can increase capacity and maximise coverage in harder to reach areas by 2025.