Rural welcome for broadband scheme

RURAL business leaders have welcomed a grant scheme to connect firms to faster broadband.

Defra released a new wave of pre-Brexit grant schemes to help rural areas in England get connected to superfast broadband on Saturday (29 July).

News of the scheme was welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association, which represents, farmers, landowners and other rural businesses.

The schemes are funded from money allocated to rural economic development under the Common Agricultural Policy.

    See also: £200m for rural broadband and business

They will be made available for grant applications administered by the Rural Payments Agency.

CLA senior rural business advisor Charles Trotman said: “These grants are the right thing at the right time.

"With Brexit around the corner, businesses need to be thinking about ways to make investments that will help them to harness opportunities in a changing market.

For some businesses, especially in farming, upgrading equipment and processes to drive efficiency, reduce costs and increase standards would be the key, said Dr Trotman.

"For others, the opportunity to diversify and add new income to the business will be vital," he added.

“However, businesses must be made aware of the opportunities available to them and ensure there is sufficient time and guidance in how to navigate the application process.

"A number of well-intentioned grant schemes have not had the desired effect because of weaknesses in how they are promoted and delivered. The CLA has a big role to play in helping businesses with this.”

On the broadband fund Dr Trotman commented: “Getting superfast connections to our most remote communities is a vitally important but expensive and complex task.

Targeted support will help with this but the key is to mobilise communities which could benefit from this to work together to enable the best possible connections.”


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