More than 55,000 small and medium businesses (SMEs), employing up to one million people across the UK, have taken advantage of a Government scheme to boost their broadband connectivity, new figures show.
Small businesses up and down the country have benefited from the Broadband Connection Voucher scheme, with SMEs gaining on average £1,300 a year in profit through the initiative.
The scheme has now allocated all of the £40 million available funding since April. It allowed businesses to apply for grants of up to £3,000 to cover the costs of installing faster broadband.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said 14,545 businesses took up the offer in the capital alone.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been a tremendous success. More than 55,000 small businesses across the UK have taken up the offer, many of which are already seeing significant boosts to their business as a result of improved broadband speeds.
‘‘We’re transforming the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create new jobs and attract investment to make the UK an enviable business destination.”
Set up in December 2013 under the coalition government, the scheme committed to helping smaller firms get connected to the internet.
This comes as great news for the SME community. In March, SME Insider reported that over a million small businesses lack basic digital skills, a figure which is largely down to slow and unreliable broadband speeds.
The 2015 Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index, which tracks digital adoption among small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) and charities, found that smaller to medium-sized UK businesses (SMEs) are seeing the benefits of being digitally enabled, but there are still around 1.2 million that lack basic digital skills.
The UK economy has benefited as a result of the scheme. Research has found that for every £1 the UK Government invested in the scheme, more than £5 will be returned to the UK economy.
These figures have followed last week’s announcement from Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced that the government is working towards supplying every family and small business in the UK with broadband speeds of 10mbps.