Internet windfall for Calderdale businesses as Superconnected scheme expanded

Mark Durham, project manager, Superconnected Leeds Bradford
Mark Durham, project manager, Superconnected Leeds Bradford

More than 7,000 small businesses in Calderdale have become eligible for a grant of up to £3,000 to help them boost their internet connectivity, after the extension of the government-funded Superconnected Cities scheme.

The project, which awards ‘connection voucher’ grants of up to £3,000 to individual businesses to cover the costs of installing high speed broadband, is part of a nationwide programme to boost high-speed internet connectivity among SMEs.

Previously available to businesses within the Leeds and Bradford districts, and delivered by Leeds City Council, the expanded scheme will make the grant funding accessible to 27,365 additional businesses across the Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield districts with immediate effect.

Martin Hathaway, chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, which covers the Metropolitan Authority Areas of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, said: “This is a huge boost to businesses in our chamber area, and means this transformational technology grant is now available to SMEs right across West Yorkshire.

“Superfast broadband is a business critical resource for many companies, and these vouchers take just minutes to apply for and don’t require any match funding.”

Leeds and Bradford have seen the UK’s highest take up rates for the vouchers and last month became the first area outside London to issue more than 1,000 connection grants since the Superconnected Cities programme was launched in February 2014.

Mark Durham of Superconnected Leeds Bradford, which administers the grants to eligible firms, welcomed the broadening of the scheme, saying: “We have worked hard to ensure as many Yorkshire businesses as possible get access to this funding before it closes in March next year.

“Over 99 per cent of businesses across West Yorkshire are now eligible for a grant, so we hope to see a flurry of applications and many new connections to the superfast network. Great high-speed web connectivity is one of the easiest and most effective ways to transform the efficiency of a business and broaden its capabilities.”

Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy, Councillor Peter Caffrey, said: “The expansion of the connection voucher scheme is great news for the 7,000 small and medium businesses across Calderdale.

“Some of them are already benefiting from the scheme, and we look forward to many more getting involved.

“The results from Leeds and Bradford show that businesses can increase turnover and create new jobs as a result of their improved connectivity, so we hope for similar economic benefits across our own area.”