Swinney calls for more broadband investment from UK Government
Perthshire North MSP, Mr John Swinney, has called on the UK Government to revise its approach to digital connectivity and invest more money delivering high-speed broadband for residents in Perthshire, after it was criticised for ‘short-changing’ Scots on high-speed broadband by a parliamentary committee.
The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity committee this week called on the UK government to deliver its fair share of UK broadband funding after it was revealed that the Tories have contributed just 3% of the total funding for the ‘Reaching 100%’ project.
Despite connectivity and broadband being a reserved matter, the Scottish Government has invested £600 million in the ‘R100’ programme to deliver super-fast broadband to every home and business in Scotland.
Commenting, Mr Swinney said:
“Digital connectivity is an essential part of modern life and an indispensable tool for stimulating economic growth, which is why it is essential that the UK government stop short-changing residents in Perthshire, and across Scotland.
“The Tories’ ambitions for broadband are extremely disappointing, and far behind those of the Scottish Government – despite connectivity and broadband being a reserved matter.
“Communities across the region have been backed into a corner due this Westminster government’s complete lack of ambition for digital connectivity. Rural areas have been especially let down by a lack of adequate broadband coverage.
‘’The Scottish Government has committed to extending superfast access to all of Scotland by 2021 – with speeds of at least 30Mbps – and committed £600 million to delivering that; it’s time for the Tories to step up to the plate and commit to joining Scotland in the 21st century.
“The Tories must step up to the plate and deliver for people in Perthshire.”
Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee:
Maureen Watt MSP: “I take it that’s separate from the contribution that we would expect from the UK government on the R100 project. Do we know how much money we can expect from the UK government for the R100 programme.”
Cabinet Secretary: “The R100 programme is a £600 million programme which we’re taking forward. The contribution from the UK government to the R100 programme is £20.99 million, it’s about 3% of the overall budget.”
MW: “Despite them being responsible for connectivity and broadband?“
CS: “This is a wholly reserved matter to the UK government. The reason we’ve had to step into this is because of a lack of strategy […] We’ll certainly continue to press the UK on this matter, and I would certainly welcome the support of the committee on this.”
Convener: “[…] it would be entirely appropriate for the committee to write to the UK government to ask why they have contributed that level and the justification for that.”
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