MPs urge Chancellor to continue broadband investment

THREE North Yorkshire MPs including Rishi Sunak have written an open letter to the Chancellor urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband as part of his spending review.

Rishi, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake and Julian Sturdy MP for York Outer are among more than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers to write to George Osborne ahead of the Autumn Statement.

The signatories welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 10Mbps, but highlighted that 17 per cent of the UK still does not currently have the option of a superfast broadband connection and, even worse, some 500,000 households still lack even basic broadband.

They also noted the social importance of access to broadband, which in some areas can be the difference between isolation and access to vital services, and called for parallel investment into digital skills, which are essential for everyone from jobseekers to pensioners.

The letter urges the Chancellor to consider the importance of continued state investment “so that the digital divide does not widen and deepen, and so that we can provide the same digital opportunities to everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live.

 “Continued investment will ensure that we will not split the superconnected from those for whom the 21st century economy is another country. We urge you to invest in creating one digital nation.”

Mr Sunak said: “I hope the Chancellor will take our comments on board and continue to consider the importance of broadband services in this and future spending reviews, so that we can ensure families, communities and businesses across the country have access to the quality broadband needed for a modern economy.’

The letter was co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communication.