Over 27,000 small businesses in Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale have become eligible for a grant of up to £3,000 to help them boost their internet connectivity, after the extension of the government-funded Superconnected Cities scheme to include the whole of West Yorkshire.
The Superconnected Cities scheme, which awards ‘connection voucher’ grants of up to £3,000 to individual businesses to cover the costs of installing high speed broadband, is part of a nationwide programme to boost high-speed internet connectivity among SMEs.
Previously available to businesses within the Leeds and Bradford districts, and delivered by Leeds City Council, the expanded scheme will make the grant funding accessible to 27,365 additional businesses across the Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield districts with immediate effect.
Mark Goldstone, head of business representation and policy at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a huge boost to business in West Yorkshire, and means this transformational technology grant is now available to almost 80 per cent more firms than before.
“Superfast broadband is a business critical resource for many companies, and these vouchers take just minutes to apply for and don’t require any match funding.”
Leeds and Bradford have seen the UK’s highest take up rates for the vouchers and this month became the first area outside London to issue more than 1,000 connection grants since the Superconnected Cities programme was launched in February 2014.
Mark Durham of Superconnected Leeds Bradford, which administers the grants to eligible firms, welcomed the broadening of the scheme, saying: “We have worked hard to ensure as many Yorkshire businesses as possible get access to this funding before it closes in March next year.
“Over 99 per cent of businesses across West Yorkshire are now eligible for a grant, so we hope to see a flurry of applications and many new connections to the superfast network. Great high-speed web connectivity is one of the easiest and most effective ways to transform the efficiency of a business and broaden its capabilities.”
Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for transport and the economy, said: “Leeds’ connection voucher scheme has been a massive success story and the fact it is now going to be rolled out to other local authorities in West Yorkshire is proof of this achievement.
“The expansion of this scheme is important to make sure as many small and medium sized businesses as possible in West Yorkshire benefit, which all helps towards building a strong regional economy.”
Photo: Mark Durham (holding i-pad), project manager, Superconnected Leeds Bradford