Topping up the superfast broadband pot
Back in November 2011, when the £100m Urban Broadband Fund was announced, there was a hint that more money was being sought for other parts of the UK, and it appears today that this extra funding has been secured. The £100m secured from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) if spread amongst the 44 BDUK funding allocations will achieve very little, but due to the source it seems likely that not all areas will be eligible.
The funding pot for goal of the UK being the best in Europe with regards to broadband now stands at £530m via BDUK, £20m rural broadband fund, £100m urban fund, and £100m from the ERDF, giving a total of £750m.
A very important question now, is how this will alter any existing local authority plans, for example if a plan is giving some extra money, will the local authority and commercial partner both be expected to match fund it. If this is the case then the money may do more harm than good, as while it provides more money to do the work, cash strapped councils and companies struggling to find investment capital will be stretched even further. If the money is handed over with no match funding requirements then it could help plans to go beyond the 90% receiving superfast broadband and push it a percentage point or two closer to 100%.