Rebecca Pow, along with more than 100 cross-party MPs and Peers, has written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband as part of the upcoming Spending Review.
The letter was co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communication, of which Rebecca is a vice-chairman. This follows a recent Backbench Business debate on the matter where Rebecca spoke about the struggle to connect all properties in Taunton Deane.
The signatories welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 10Mbps, but highlighted that 17% 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 the letter, 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.’
‘I was delighted at the support for the letter to the Chancellor from across the main political parties. While the Prime Minister’s announcement on higher broadband speeds is welcome news it is important that investment into broadband infrastructure continues. I will be sure to keep pushing for this and really stress the need for every property in Taunton Deane to have access to appropriate broadband.
I hope the Chancellor will take my comments on board and continue to consider the importance of broadband services in this and future spending reviews. It is absolutely crucial to the economy of Taunton Deane that every family, community and business has access to good quality internet. This will remain a top priority for me until every property in the constituency is properly connected.’