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To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reasons fibre cables used for bringing superfast broadband to businesses and homes are taxed at the same rate as commercial buildings; what steps she is taking to tackle obstacles to investment in broadband infrastructure; and if she will make a statement.
The Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2018 paves the way for full-fibre broadband and future 5G communications. By enabling 100% business rates relief for operators who install new fibre on their networks, the Act incentivises operators to invest in the broadband network.
My Department is committed to removing barriers to investment in fibre broadband and other digital communications infrastructure. Officials within the Department’s Barrier Busting Task Force are working closely with industry to identify these barriers and bring forward measures to remove them, such as the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill which, if enacted, will create a streamlined process for operators to deploy broadband in multiple-dwelling buildings when landlords fail to respond to requests for access. The Department has also issued guidance to local authorities on ways they can support and encourage local investment in broadband through its Digital Connectivity Portal and Street Works Toolkit.
For business rates, all rateable values, including those for telecommunications networks, are assessed to the same standard of annual rental value. This ensures that all ratepayers are treated equally and that utility companies, such as gas electric and telecom networks, make a fair contribution to local services. Individual rateable values are assessed independently of Ministers by the Valuation Office Agency.