Action to support rural communities announced
100,000 homes and businesses in rural parts of the UK will be further supported to access improved broadband connections
Devon village grassland in England
100,000 homes and businesses in the most remote and rural parts of the UK will be further supported to access substantially improved broadband connections, under plans outlined by the Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey today (Monday 2 October).
The government is committed to ensuring rural communities have access to reliable gigabit-capable broadband connection across the UK, with a target of reaching 85% of premises by 2025 and to reach as close to 100 per cent as soon as possible after.
However, a small minority of premises in rural and remote areas of the UK – known as ‘Very Hard to Reach Premises’ – are unlikely to benefit directly from the substantial activity across the telecoms industry to deliver gigabit-capable broadband services. This can be caused by their isolated location, low population density or limited existing telecoms infrastructure – all of which can make them challenging to connect.
Consultations published today outline plans to review and update the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) which already gives homeowners and businesses the legal right to request an affordable, decent broadband connection, and to develop and assess future policy to improve broadband connectivity for Very Hard to Reach Premises.
Alongside the measures to improve rural connectivity, the Secretary of State set out the government’s plans to level up rural communities by unlocking new homes in rural areas and investing in new technology to improve local transport links.
The ‘Future of Transport: Helping local authorities to unlock the benefits of technology and innovation in rural transport’ will support local authorities, transport planners, bus operators and transport companies explore how emerging technologies could be deployed in non-urban areas.
Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey said:
“Our countryside, home to millions of people, is rich in potential and we want to make sure that everyone can develop their skills and reach the opportunities for success.
“So whether through improved connectivity, housing or transport I’m championing rural communities as we seek to grow our economy – so that every part of our country gets the support it needs to thrive.”
Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey announced:
- A consultation on reviewing and updating the Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) which already gives homeowners and businesses the legal right to request an affordable, decent broadband connection.
- A consultation on further proposals to improve broadband provision for Very Hard to Reach Premises, which are unlikely to receive a gigabit-capable connection via either a commercial or government funded intervention. This will ensure communities with the most limited connectivity experience a step-change in their digital connectivity as soon as possible, fuelling the economy and supporting jobs growth for decades to come.
- A statement from Homes England setting out its work to support rural communities and families by enabling the delivery of more good quality, affordable homes. The statement includes case studies of successful rural housing schemes currently operating within Cornwall and the Yorkshire Dales.
- The publication of ‘Future of Transport: Helping local authorities to unlock the benefits of technology and innovation in rural transport’ to help rural local authorities, their communities and other stakeholders to harness transport innovation, helping to improve access to services, tackle isolation and increase access to jobs in rural and remote areas.
The announcements build on the Unleashing Rural Opportunity paper published in June, which outlines how government will deliver the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better paid jobs and opportunity across the country.
Defra also continues its rural proofing work whereby all government policy is examined to ensure it is delivering for rural communities. The next rural proofing report will be published later this year.
This follows a decade of action that has boosted rural connectivity and opportunity, from our flagship Project Gigabit programme that has already helped to deliver high-speed, reliable and future-proof broadband to more than 75 per cent of the nation, to improving access to doctors in underserved areas, fixing millions of potholes and resurfacing thousands of miles of road on which our rural communities rely.