Government must focus on broadband in rural areas to help microbusinesses

(2 minutes to read)

The IPSE has said that the government should ‘double-down’ on its roll-out of broadband to rural areas in order to help out microbusinesses struggling with a decent internet connection.

With business becoming increasingly digitised, the IPSE believes that we risk leaving people in rural areas with poor connectivity behind if the pace of the roll-out slows.

This response by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) is due to the release of the government’s ‘Evaluation of the Economic Impact and Public Value of the Superfast Broadband Programme’.

This is a report carried out by Ipsos MORI, Simetrica, George Barrett and Dr Pantelis Koutroumpis for DCMS, evaluating the impact of Superfast roll-out on reducing the digital divide, economic impacts, public value and social benefits, as well as a cost benefit analysis.

Jordan Marshall, IPSE Policy Development Manager, commented, “Today’s report shows the Government’s long-overdue investment in regional broadband is starting to bear fruit. However, of the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed workers, twice as many work in rural areas as in urban areas, and too many still don’t have access to a decent broadband connection.

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“Our smallest businesses – self-employed, independent professionals – are dependent on fast, reliable broadband in order to operate, particularly as more people are choosing to work from home. Poor connectivity acts as a lag on productivity, hindering individuals who might otherwise consider starting their own self-employed business.

“Business is becoming increasingly digitised, and we risk leaving people behind if the pace of the roll-out slows. The importance of reliable broadband has been highlighted by the Government’s rollout of ‘Making Tax Digital’. Business owners based in remote locations could really struggle to submit their tax returns if they don’t have adequate broadband.”

“In the post-Brexit landscape, the flexible labour market will be vital to the success of the UK economy. Superfast broadband for rural microbusinesses therefore must not be overlooked on the grounds of cost.”

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