Lee Waters AM, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport
I am writing today to inform Members on the agreement that has been reached with the UK Government to provide additional funding for premises in Wales through the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
The vast majority of homes and business in Wales can already access superfast broadband through our intervention. However, there do still remain premises without access to a fast fibre connection, which the private sector has no plans to address.
As part of our efforts to assist these remaining premises we are today announcing an agreement reached with the UK Government to increase the funding ceiling available to Welsh homes and businesses accessing support through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
Gigabit broadband vouchers are currently available to small businesses and surrounding local communities to contribute to the installation costs of a gigabit-capable broadband connection. Following the agreement with UK Government, businesses and communities in Wales will now be eligible for additional funding from the Welsh Government to support their schemes.
Through the UK Government scheme businesses can claim up to £2,500 against the cost of a gigabit capable connection, either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can claim grant vouchers worth £500 as part of a group project that includes a business.
Our new Wales-specific top-up reflects the higher costs of deploying fibre infrastructure in Wales, which is a consequence of topography premises distribution.
For group projects, the Welsh Government will pay up to an additional £3,000 per small to medium-sized business (SME) and an additional £300 per residential property. This means that for group projects in Wales up to £5,500 is available per business and up to £800 is available per residential property.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme will replace the Welsh Government’s Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher, which will close as of today’s date. Applications to that scheme received prior to this date will still be considered.
Our Access Broadband Cymru scheme remains relevant and will continue to be available to provide grants to fund the installation costs of new broadband connections.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme can provide a vital funding source for group connectivity projects, and I encourage you to promote the opportunity in your area.
Although the vast majority of premises in Wales can now access superfast broadband, we are working hard on assisting the remaining premises that cannot; there is no one size fits all solution, however, and the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is just one part of a suite of measures to assist.
We are already investing £22.5m to reach an initial 26,000 of the remaining premises through fibre broadband; this in addition to the £200m of public investment through the Superfast Cymru programme which has connected more than 733,000 premises in areas where commercial companies had no plans to cover.
Our work to improve digital infrastructure continues, delivering on our commitments in Taking Wales Forward and to the Economic Action Plan. I will continue to keep you informed as we develop and deliver our integrated approach to fast broadband connectivity.