Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury, has this week challenged the Government to come clean on their failed pledge to ensure every home and business in the UK could access basic broadband by the end of 2015.
The Government have now acknowledged that the rollout of superfast broadband is not likely to be delivered until the end of 2017.
Ms Sherriff explained: ‘A stopgap measure, the satellite voucher scheme was launched in December which is supposed to offer immediate assistance to those who are still waiting for decent access to broadband. Unfortunately many local people have contact me to say they are not able to access this, due to limited eligibility criteria.’
In response to her question to Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey in Parliament yesterday, Ms Sherriff was told that the satellite voucher scheme would provide broadband access to everyone who does not currently have broadband or has broadband under 2mbps.
‘Sadly, this is not the full picture for local residents. The Government’s eligibility criteria means that, in areas where superfast broadband is due to be rolled out within the next 12 months, local people will not be entitled to the satellite voucher scheme.
For those who have contacted me, this is not a satisfactory situation – they have been waiting years to have access to a decent broadband service and they feel the satellite voucher scheme offers false hope of providing immediate access in the short term.
My constituents are understandably disappointed that their homes will continue to be isolated, businesses diminished and children’s educations stunted by poor connectivity.’
Ms Sherriff has now written to Mr Vaizey to highlight her constituents’ concerns about the efficacy of the satellite voucher scheme and to ask that the Government expand the scheme so that it offers the short term assistance promised.
‘The Government have broken their promise to ensure every home and business in the UK could access basic broadband by the end of 2015. Now they offer us a short term measure that will be out of reach for many residents awaiting decent broadband access. It’s just not good enough to ask my constituents to wait a further 12 months. People have been waiting long enough to access to a reasonable broadband service which in 2016 is a necessity, not a luxury.’
Watch the full question Ms Sherriff asked in Parliament here: