Treasury written question – answered on 27th May 2021.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Centre for Economics and Business Research report, How covid-driven digital change could transform the UK economy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of exempting full fibre deployment from business rates tax to help meet the Government's 2025 target for fibre broadband.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government notes the CEBR report, commissioned by Openreach, which predicts a huge productivity boost from nationwide gigabit connectivity, suggesting a £59 billion boost to the UK’s Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2025. On the report’s suggestion that 270,000 people could move from urban to more rural areas as a result of changing attitudes towards home working, the Government recognises the importance of strong digital connectivity in rural areas. That is why it is investing £5bn to ensure those living in hard-to-reach areas get gigabit connectivity.

The Government is providing 100 per cent business rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a five-year period from 1 April 2017. Telecoms providers are also significant beneficiaries of the £3.6 billion transitional relief scheme. A fundamental review of business rates was announced by the Chancellor at last year’s Budget. A call for evidence was published in July 2020 to seek stakeholders’ views on all elements of the business rates system including reliefs, and the Government is currently considering its responses. The final report will be published in the Autumn.

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