Tees Valley Unlimited and the area’s five Local Authorities have launched a free voucher scheme to help small and medium-sized companies in the area turbo-charge their businesses communications through better broadband links. The drive to ensure that SMEs, charities and social enterprises have access to high-speed reliable communication systems follows Tees Valley being designated a broadband connection voucher scheme area by the Government.
Eligible organisations, across Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees, can apply for a free voucher, worth up to £3,000, towards the fixed cost of getting better connected. The vouchers, which are designed to cover the cost of installing the next generation of broadband services, are backed financially by Whitehall as part of the SuperFast Britain campaign to get more businesses and residents online.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said, “This is fantastic news for Middlesbrough and Tees Valley as we know how important a fast broadband connection is for businesses across the UK. We want to make sure that small businesses have the technology they need to compete in the digital age. This scheme will help tens of thousands of small businesses around the UK and I urge all Middlesbrough and Tees Valley businesses to apply for a voucher from April 2015 onwards.”
Councillor Charlie Rooney, Executive Member for Regeneration for Middlesbrough Borough Council, the Tees Valley local authority leading on the project, said: “In today’s fast-moving hi-tech world, superfast broadband is no longer a luxury, but is essential for businesses and our local economy.
If Tees Valley is to be able to grow and prosper in an increasingly digital world more companies must be able to plug into the high-speed network.
Stephen Catchpole, Managing Director of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, said: “I would urge eligible businesses to apply for a voucher as allowing an organisation to access the latest technology can positively impact on its ability to meet its customer needs and grow the business.”
The Connection Voucher, which will open up broadband services capable of delivering 30Mbps or higher, will pay a business between £100 and £3,000 towards the fixed cost of getting connected. If a business is part of a building or business park and knows of neighbouring businesses that also would like to access the scheme, they can pool their vouchers to obtain a better connection across the whole of the site.
Organisations could qualify if they:
• Are a SME, charity or social enterprise employing less than 249 people or volunteers
• Have a turnover of less than £41m / balance sheet of less than £35m
• Have received less than £120,000 in public grants in the last three years
• The connection will cost more than £100
• Are willing to sign up for a minimum six month contract with their chosen supplier
The scheme is administered by Go Digital Newcastle on behalf of Tees Valley.