18/06/2021 - Permalink

Improving broadband for households: Government consultation extended

Related topics: Economic growth

The Government has extended its current call for evidence on improving broadband for households.

This was the subject of  a statement from Shropshire Council on 21 May 2021, encouraging local communities and businesses to share their feedback direct to the Government.

There is an online survey calling for this evidence, which now closes on 25 June 2021, which can be accessed here.

The ‘call for evidence’ is designed to help with national decision-making and funding allocation for improving broadband to all households of the UK, wherever they may be.

The request for evidence focusses on the most difficult to reach areas which are called the ‘Very Hard to Reach’  (VHTR) premises. These are often in the most rural areas of the UK.

Rob Gittins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for digital, technology and data insight, said:

“In the Shropshire Council response to the Government, we say that we are currently projecting just over 1,400 premises that will still be sub superfast by 2023 across the whole of our geography without commercial or public intervention. We expect many of these premises to be in the definition of VHTR.

“To date, we have been unable to deliver superfast solutions to these VHTR premises. These premises continue to be a priority for the council to resolve ahead of the Government delivering gigabit solutions to premises that already have good broadband as result of commercial deployments or Shropshire’s own state aided contract interventions.

“We are emphasising to the Government that these remaining premises should be a priority in Project Gigabit. Shropshire has already been announced as an early intervention area as part of Project Gigabit, but we also need help from communities and from those who represent them, such as town and parish councils, to really press the point home.

“We know how vitally important this is to rural communities which currently cannot receive superfast broadband and I would strongly urge town and parish councils and local communities to provide as much evidence as possible to the Government to make our collective case.”

The Shropshire Council submission will encourage the Government to prioritise sub-superfast premises for intervention as a priority, alongside their ambition of providing gigabit connectivity to all premises.

The council is stating its view that without this prioritisation, it will be difficult to realise shared ambitions to level up opportunities in communities across the country and to reduce the inequalities around digital access that currently prevail for rural communities in particular.

Further information

  • The Government has not shared any data on where these specific premises are in Shropshire. However, we believe that some of these premises will be in the areas where there is currently no superfast broadband available or where we have no further contract work planned to provide superfast broadband through intervention contracts. For information on where some of the premises are, please refer to the Shropshire Council website
  • Shropshire Council remains committed to its long-term aspiration of providing superfast broadband to all premises in the Shropshire Council area. To date, 98.2% of premises have access to superfast broadband, with over 68,000 premises directly benefitting from the Connecting Shropshire programme.
  • Any queries on the ‘call for evidence’ should be directed to DCMS via VHTR@dcms.gov.uk and not Shropshire Council.
  • The reason for the extension is to give those who wish to respond more time as the Government are aware that some stakeholders have experienced constraints due to coronavirus restrictions and some local authorities and administrations have been in a pre-election period during the call.
  • Please note that due to coronavirus restrictions they cannot accept paper submissions. All responses must be sent electronically, including responses to the online survey and long-form responses sent to DCMS.  Should individual stakeholders not be able to do so, they recommend  a response through a representative organisation.