Farming News - Labour's plans for broadband risk slowing down rural connectivity

Labour's plans for broadband risk slowing down rural connectivity

20 Nov 2019
Frontdesk / Finance

Labour has announced a policy of free broadband for all and is expanding its nationalisation plans to include chunks of BT – a move which has taken the company by surprise after being reassured by John McDonnell in the summer that it was “not on the list” for nationalisation.

Rural Powerhouse Connectivity

Responding to the Labour Party’s policy pledge on broadband, Country Land and Business Association (CLA) President Mark Bridgeman said:

“The rural economy is 16% less productive than the national average – in part because of poor broadband in huge swathes of the country. Closing that productivity gap could be worth up to £43bn for UK PLC.

“So we welcome the political focus on broadband from all parties which shows we are finally seeing some ambition to become a world class fully connected digital nation, tackling the digital divide between rural and urban areas – with all the economic and social benefits that brings.

“Of course everyone likes things for free. But it is not clear how nationalisation will speed up the delivery of full broadband for everyone in the country. Under these plans, investment will collapse straight after the election and it will not begin again until the Government is able to complete the nationalisation process. This could take many years and actually slow down progress, not speed it up."

The Country Land and Business Association launched its Rural Powerhouse campaign this week designed to unleash the potential of the rural economy.