Digital setback

Flagship broadband plan cut by £50m, say Tories

Rachael Hamilton: ‘astonishing’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish government ministers have been accused of cutting the digital infrastructure budget by £50 million, further delaying a pledge to deliver super-fast broadband across the country.

The Reaching 100 Per Cent (R100) programme promised speeds of 30 megabits per second to every home and business but has missed a number of deadlines.

In March it was revealed that the northern part of the programme would not be complete until 2026, but last month it emerged that this has slipped by a further 12 months.

A written response received by the Scottish Conservatives now reveals that funding dropped from £66.2m in 2017-18 to just £27.1m the following year, and was reduced again to £18m in 2019-20.

Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Rachael Hamilton says it is “astonishing” that SNP ministers decided it was appropriate to cut funding at a time when rural communities were expecting to finally enjoy broadband speeds that were fit for purpose.

“It is astonishing that the SNP were slashing funding on digital infrastructure at this time. They never tired of talking up their flagship R100 scheme, but they clearly weren’t prepared to back up their words with the investment needed,” she said.

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