Sheffield firms urged to apply for grants from £40m funding pot before it ‘runs out’

Alex Hodgson, business development manager at Sheffield telecoms company One2Call
Alex Hodgson, business development manager at Sheffield telecoms company One2Call
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Bosses in Sheffield are being warned a £40million broadband grant scheme is rapidly running out due to a stampede from businesses in other cities including Leeds.

More than 500 firms in West Yorkshire have applied for connection vouchers worth up to £3,000 since April 1, compared to 188 in South Yorkshire - despite the city centre having no access to ‘affordable’ fibre.

Now, Superconnected Cities, the Government-backed organisation behind the scheme, says the money is likely to run out in November.

The warning has sparked urgent calls to companies to apply - especially in Sheffield city centre where firms face huge costs to access high speed internet after the taxpayer-funded Digital Region network was shut down last year.

Sheffield City Council has organised a ‘Broadband Summit’ at the Town Hall on Monday, June 22, to raise awareness of the voucher scheme.

The Government is writing to small and medium enterprises (SME) across Yorkshire to promote the scheme and Superconnected Cities is writing to more than 12,000 Sheffield firms from next week to drive take-up.

Alex Hodgson, of Sheffield telecoms company One2Call, said a grant could be particularly useful to city centre businesses which face paying for an expensive ‘leased line’ plus installation charges which could involve digging up the road.

He added: “£40m sounds like a lot of money but this warning has put urgency into our activity.”

The £100m Digital Region network was shut down and sold off last year.