Leeds and Bradford broadband connection voucher scheme launched

Caption: (L-R) Chris Glen (Federation of Small Business), Tom Bridges (Leeds City Council), Cllr David Green (Leader of Bradford MDC), Mark Goldstone (Chamber of Commerce, Steve Crow (Clarion), Simon Barratt (Four Door Lemon)

Connection vouchers worth up to £3,000 are now available to small and medium-size businesses across Bradford and Leeds to cover the cost of upgrading to superfast broadband, offering SMEs the opportunity to transform the way they do business.

Funded through the Government’s ‘Superconnected Cities’ programme, the connection vouchers are available to companies in the two cities starting this week (commencing Monday 17th February1).

The programme is being delivered locally by Leeds City Council and Bradford Metropolitan District Council and is part of a national programme, designed to deliver a step change in broadband connection speeds and reliability.

The programme covers 22 cities, with Leeds and Bradford securing a £10 million share – the largest outside London – of the total £100 million funding available for the programme.

Businesses can apply online for a connection voucher via a dedicated website (www.superconnectedleedsbradford.co.uk). The vouchers cover the installation cost up to a maximum of £3,000 with on-going monthly costs being paid for by the business.

The programme isn’t linked to any particular technology – wireless, fibre, cable, mobile and other types of connection are all covered by the programme. Provided the the business is an SME based in Leeds or Bradford, they should be eligible for a connection voucher.

Cllr David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, speaking ahead of the launch of the Superconnected Leeds Bradford programme, said: “Access to high speed broadband is crucial in a competitive global market and that is the environment our businesses now work and operate in.

“Securing an upgraded connection enables companies to share large data files and communicate more effectively with each other and with their customers. Ultimately it helps companies to grow and prosper which in turn generates more jobs for local people and this benefits us all."

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for development and the economy, said: “The average UK business will need 10 times their current bandwidth within the next five years. This means that high speed broadband is becoming an absolute necessity for businesses. Support for SME businesses in our two cities is welcome and will help significantly improve productivity and competitiveness, in turn helping to grow the local economy.“

Mark Goldstone of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said the latest Chamber research showed 92% of companies see broadband as critical to their business: “Broadband is now considered by many to be as vital as electricity and running water and access to a high quality service is one of the key factors when companies look to expand or locate.

“High speed broadband is game changing and allows companies to think and operate differently. Technologies such as cloud computing, for example, allow for more efficient use of resources to store and access data, freeing up capital which otherwise would have been invested in expensive server hardware and associated costs.”

Simon Barrett of Bradford-based games development firm Four Door Lemon, said: “High speed internet is vital to our business. In a digital industry, deliveries to our customers – be it gamers or other businesses – are completely dependent on the speed of our connection to deliver updates.

“With quicker connections we can iterate faster when making improvements and adjustments to our products and therefore increase our productivity and profit. This scheme is a very welcome benefit to companies in Leeds and Bradford and will help us be more competitive in the global market we operate in.”

Notes for editors

1. The Superconnected Leeds Bradford programme will be officially launched at a business breakfast taking place on Wednesday 19th February, 8am – 10am, at the offices of Clarion Solicitors, Elizabeth House, 13-19 Queen Street, Leeds LS1 2TW

2. ‘Superfast’ broadband typically refers to download speeds of above 30 megabits per second. Connection Vouchers can be used to support a variety of technical solutions, including both wired and wireless connections. As well as meeting the ongoing running costs of the broadband connection, the SME will need to pay for the VAT on the connection charge. The scheme runs in Leeds and Bradford until 31st March 2015.

3. Companies simply have to complete an online application form and obtain two supplier quotes. Further details and the application form are available at www.superconnectedLeedsBradford.co.uk

4. The ‘Superconnected Cities’ programme is part of a national programme to improve broadband connectivity and is running alongside the Superfast West Yorkshire infrastructure programme, which aims to bring high speed connectivity to residents and businesses in more rural areas. For more information about superfast broadband in West Yorkshire and government funded projects to improve access visit: www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk

Media contacts:

David Baggaley, Marketing Manager, Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 226 4397

Email: david.baggaley@leeds.gov.uk

Jane Lewis, Bradford Metropolitan District Council

Communications and Media Relations Manager, Bradford Council

Tel: 01274 433526

Email: jane.lewis@bradford.gov.uk