Nicola is one of more than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers who have written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband and digital skills as part of the Spending Review.
The signatories welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 10Mbps, but highlighted that 17 per cent of the UK still does not currently have the option of a superfast broadband connection and, even worse, some 500,000 households still lack even basic broadband.
They also note the social importance of access to broadband, which in some areas can be the difference between isolation and access to vital services, and call for parallel investment into digital skills, which are essential for everyone from jobseekers to pensioners to get by in the modern age.
In Nicola’s constituency, there are still a number of households which do not have at least a 2Mbps broadband speed and Nicola has long been campaigning for better broadband, raising the issue with Ministers and with service providers.
In the letter to the Chancellor, the Parliamentarians say: ‘We urge you to consider the importance of continued state investment in both mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure as part of the Spending Review, so that the digital divide does not widen and deepen, and so that we can provide the same digital opportunities to everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live.
Continued investment will ensure that we will not split the superconnected from those for whom the 21st century economy is another country. We urge you to invest in creating one digital nation.’
Nicola says: I welcome the Prime Minister’s recent announcement on higher broadband speeds. It is absolutely essential that the Government continues to invest in our broadband infrastructure and closing the digital skills gap. This is an issue I have been championing as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee as the UK needs to fill 1 million more digital jobs by 2020.
Families and businesses consistently tell me how connectivity in rural areas is vital, and it also substantially boosts the local economy. I look forward to hearing back from the Chancellor.