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Don’t miss out on broadband voucher scheme, Yorkshire businesses warned

Thursday, August 6th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Yorkshire businesses are being urged to take advantage of a government scheme that offers £3,000 towards the cost of installing high speed broadband.

Almost 5,000 SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the county have already taken advantage of the government's Superconnected Cities scheme.

Firms in Yorkshire have claimed more ‘connection voucher’ grants than any other region outside London, but those who haven’t got involved are being urged to act quickly.

New projections predict that the entire £40m funding pot will be allocated by October, so businesses may have only 8-12 weeks to secure their share of the government support.

So far, 3,630 vouchers have been issued to firms in West Yorkshire and Craven, and 442 in York.

In April, the scheme was expanded to include 28 new cities meaning businesses in Hull and South Yorkshire became eligible.

Already, 464 vouchers have been offered in Hull and 364 in South Yorkshire, putting these two locations into the top three of the 28 new cities and regions to join the scheme.

The geographic extension also meant that many North Yorkshire businesses could benefit, and a flurry of applications has been seen from businesses in Harrogate, Ripon and the rural Dales.

Natalie Ward, programme manager for the Superfast South Yorkshire scheme, said: “Being equipped with the fastest possible web connection is crucial to business growth, and it is fantastic that nearly 5,000 Yorkshire firms have taken this up to date.

'Stake their claim'

“This scheme has a finite pot of funding and since April just about half of it has been allocated to applicants across the UK.

“It is great news that Yorkshire businesses are claiming more than any region outside the capital, but for those who haven’t already received a voucher the time is slipping away.”

With almost £20m of the national fund already allocated, the operators of the West Yorkshire scheme at Leeds City Council are urging businesses to make applications as soon as possible.

“The online application process only takes five to 10 minutes, the vouchers don’t have to be match funded and so almost any firm that wants to maximize their use of the web should apply,” said Mark Durham, project manager for the Connection Voucher Scheme in West Yorkshire.

“The funding is being spent at a rate of more than £1m per week, and we would hate to see businesses face unnecessary connection and hardware charges of thousands of pounds after the pot has all been allocated.

“We are urging business owners and directors to stake their claim on the funds as soon as possible.”

Pictured are Ian Addison, director of Doncaster-based wi-fi business Zead, which connected to superfast broadband through the scheme, and Natalie Ward of Superfast South Yorkshire

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