March 17, 2015
According to reports in today’s Times, two of the key commitments in this week’s budget announcement will be a commitment to the development of the UK’s technological infrastructure as well as more details on plans for the UK’s regional economies. What is telling about both is they signal an overdue recognition that the vast majority of the UK’s inhabitants don’t live in London and even those that do find it increasingly unaffordable and unattractive. Accordingly, the first communities to be targeted for superfast and ultrafast broadband will be those in the remotest parts of the country, which until now have been those most at risk of being in the slow lane of technological developments. The Times reports that until now about 1.5 million homes were due to miss out on a pledge to give 95 per cent of people access to fast internet by 2017.
The Chancellor George Osborn is also expected to announce new subsidies and expand a programme to connect remote homes which may mean those who have waited the longest should be at the front of the queue for the best connections. “Wherever you live in Britain you should have ultrafast broadband — and we are going to make it happen,” Mr Osborne said in an announcement yesterday. As we reported recently a growing number of people are expected to move away from major cities and take advantages of opportunities for flexible working, but can be deterred by poor technological infrastructure.
The report also claims that the Chancellor will use Wednesday’s budget to flesh out his plans for a “northern powerhouse” of connected cities to shift the UK’s economic focus away from London. Proposals are expected to include new and upgraded transport infrastructure as well as a version of London’s Oyster travel card to encourage regular travellers.