'Must deliver for the countryside': Gov announces £60m tax reform to boost broadband and signal coverage

Britain is currently 54th in the world for 4G coverage
Britain is currently 54th in the world for 4G coverage

The Government has announced a £60million business rate relief for network providers to make it easier to deliver better quality broadband and mobile coverage through new infrastructure across England.

The move is part of a £1 billion package of measures by the government, announced at Autumn Statement 2016, to help communities get digitally connected.

This new tax relief will not apply to existing infrastructure, giving companies an added incentive to move further and faster to get people connected to the best possible services as they become available.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We need to have the best possible digital technology and broadband connections if we’re to create an economy that works for all.

“The Local Government Finance Bill will offer a £60 million boost to deliver ever-faster broadband connections, making UK PLC an ever-stronger competitor on the global stage.”

'Must deliver for the countryside'

The rural sector has cautiously applauded the move, with the CLA's President Ross Murray saying the extra support for digital connectivity is welcome, but 'must deliver' for the countryside.

He said: “Rural communities are still struggling with unreliable connections, if they even have any service at all, which has negative consequences for people living and working in rural areas and also impacts on much needed rural tourism.

“It is vital that as new technology is developed the countryside is not continually left behind.

“Incentives such as this tax break must push network providers to connect hard to reach rural areas faster so homes and businesses in the countryside see results from the funding and tax breaks that these large multi-national companies have been given.

Mr Murray concluded: “The Government must also ensure that any new policies recognise the positive role landowners and rural businesses can play in the roll-out programme, looking at opportunities for private investment and collaboration and smart solutions to building the infrastructure we need.”