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Satellite Broadband Voucher Scheme: Lancashire

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Conservative, Pendle 9:30 am, 3rd March 2016

What assessment he has made of the level of uptake of the satellite broadband voucher scheme in Lancashire.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Conservative, Pendle

I welcome the Government’s commitment to spreading faster broadband to rural areas, but my constituents have found it difficult to find information about the voucher scheme. Will my hon. Friend commit to working with Lancashire County Council and Broadband Delivery UK to ensure that households that could benefit from satellite broadband are made aware of that important scheme?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

In my original answer, I was obviously pointing out how well the satellite broadband scheme is going as well. We launched it at the end of December to ensure that people with speeds of less than 2 megabits per second can get the speeds they need. It was a soft launch, but we will make the scheme much more high profile in the next few months. I will happily work with my hon. Friend to make sure that his constituents can benefit from the scheme, although I note that superfast broadband roll-out will be almost 100% both in his constituency and in Lancashire.

Photo of John Pugh John Pugh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

On the subject of uptake, nearby Merseyside authorities are not claiming the millions that BT set aside for non-commercial broadband areas. Will the Minister look into that and put some pressure on the councils?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

Yes, I will certainly look into it. It is important that councils lead our scheme, because they know what is happening on the ground. We will work with them so that they can access either funding from central Government or European funding.