1000s of West Yorkshire businesses benefit from broadband voucher scheme

The Superconnected Cities programme, which awarded connection vouchers worth up to £3,000 for businesses to upgrade to superfast broadband, officially closed today (16th November), following unprecedented demand and news that funding available is fully committed.

But the team which manages the programme here in West Yorkshire has emphasised that businesses already awarded a connection voucher, still have until 31st March to get connected and receive their funding.

In total, over 4,700 SMEs across West Yorkshire secured Connection Voucher grants as part of the project, which was part of a nationwide programme to boost high-speed internet connectivity among small and medium-sized businesses.

£40 million was allocated to the scheme nationally on 1st April 2015, and that fund has been fully spent. Over £5 million of the funding was spent in West Yorkshire.

Cllr David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, said:
"The SCC voucher scheme has enabled more providers of broadband to offer high quality services in our local cities and towns. We urge all those who have been awarded a voucher under this scheme, but have not yet take advantage of it, to get connected as soon as possible. It really does make a difference to business growth and efficiency."

As well as delivering Connection Voucher grants to thousands of local businesses, the Superconnected Cities scheme also delivered free Wifi in public buildings, on trains and buses, and in some of Leeds’ and Bradford’s key public spaces.

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“The Connection Voucher scheme proved popular with local businesses, with grants offered to nearly 2,000 firms across the Leeds district. These businesses are now seeing the wide-ranging benefits of being better connected, helping them to grow which in turn is benefiting our local and regional economy.

“The Superconnected Cities scheme also delivered a range of projects including free public Wifi which is very well used. On the Airedale and Wharfedale train services there have been over 80,000 users since January 2015, so it’s clear that passengers are making good use of the service to get online as they travel.”

Leeds-based Executive Recruitment firm Hitchenor Wakeford benefitted from a connection voucher in 2014. Chairman Paul Spetch said “The upgrade was a no-brainer when we heard about the availability of the connection vouchers. It has proved to be enormously beneficial that we can all do considerably more work in every single hour we are online.”

“We have team members working remotely and from homes all over the UK who all need to connect to the Leeds server, and although we maybe didn’t realise it before, we were making do with a really slow connection,” he said.

“We spend a large proportion of our time researching online, and accessing confidential documents held centrally in Leeds, and we already seeing massive time savings as a result of the lightning quick upload and download times, and that adds up to huge salary savings across nearly 20 staff,” he added.