We know that Internet companies are more agile, but has it really taken The Telegraph and Grant Shapps ten months to notice that the first round of the BDUK clawback mechanism was announced back in July 2015. This latest item in the Better Broadband Campaign by The Telegraph while aiming to help rural areas may actually cause more problems, since it is headlining with a figure of £258m and also makes the mistake in saying the money has been returned to the Treasury.
"I fully support the Telegraph's campaign for Better Broadband."
This spare £258 million returned to the Treasury by BT could make all the difference in connecting up the most hard to reach areas.
Ensuring access to high speed broadband is one of the best ways in a modern economy for a Government to helps boost the prospects of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
It also means citizens in the countryside have the same access as everybody else to public services."Jon Trickett MP, Shadow Communities secretary
The clawback announcements led to a wave of further announcements (e.g. Lincolnshire and Worcestershire) by councils announcing extra coverage on top of their phase 2 projects and this is the problem with the announcement, i.e. the money has already been allocated in many cases and the sum of £258m which is double the actual £129m announced is a mystery - we presume an assumption has been made that the money will be precisely match funded by the BT Group again.
Update 11th May After someone in the comments mentioned that the take-up assumptions had changed we delved back through the financials and it seems the take-up assumptions have shifted again, with the presumption being a 33% take-up, rather than the 30% announced in July 2015. This means that BT Group has 'deferred £229m of grant income', which in non accountant language we believe means that the claw back mechanism has some £229m of funding to spend, but it is still not being returned to the treasury as some assert.
Its not that we don't support the idea of further investment in bringing faster broadband to more homes and businesses in the UK, its the constant trickle of half or plain incorrect facts trotted out. The danger for campaigns that continue to make mistakes like this is the hopes of the public are falsely raised e.g. some will recall the extra £129m from 2015 and incorrectly add this latest figure of £258m and wonder why with something like £400m to spend a lot more is not being done. As importantly the decision makers will ignore almost everything said as they get used to figures always been wrong.