Scotland business

Firms in four cities to get broadband grants

danny alexander
Image caption Danny Alexander will announce that firms can apply for grants of up to £3,000

Small businesses in four Scottish cities are to be able to apply for a share of £40m of UK government cash to boost their broadband connections.

The broadband vouchers programme is being extended to Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling and Dundee, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is due to announce.

Firms in Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen already benefit from the scheme.

It provides grants of up to £3,000 to help those needing a broadband upgrade.

Mr Alexander will announce the move when he speaks at the Core Cities devolution summit in Glasgow.

Rural communities

He is set to tell delegates that for many businesses across Scotland and the UK "high-speed broadband isn't a luxury, it's a necessity".

Mr Alexander will say: "Businesses... [will be able to] communicate better with customers across the world.

"It is extremely frustrating that some small businesses in cities can't get the broadband connection they need. These vouchers will help them to change that."

"Having grown up on a remote island, I know what a huge difference being connected makes to our rural communities."

The Lib Dem MP will also reveal the UK government's rollout of super-fast broadband has now reached 200,000 homes and premises in Scotland.

The programme is delivering internet speeds greater than 24 Mbps to properties not already covered by existing commercial networks.

'Greater autonomy'

The government said it was on track to take super-fast access to 95% of the UK by 2017. The current figure is about 80%.

Mr Alexander will say: "For the first time, people in these areas will be able to sign up for super-fast broadband and experience the benefits of being able to stay in touch, do deals and communicate more effectively than ever before across Scotland.

"It is this approach - devolution, but backed up by targeted government activity and government funding - which we believe offers cities the best of both worlds.

"Where the economic power of the UK can have a positive effect, then we will deploy it. And where we can give greater autonomy to our cities and regions, then we will do so."

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