In a Prime Minister’s Questions session earlier today Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, asked the Prime Minister what his government is doing to address rural not-spots in Cumbria, with some areas receiving little to no broadband and phone signal.
Dr Hudson asked:
“Penrith and The Border struggles with poor broadband and phone signal connectivity, with download speeds around 56% of the UK average. Many of my constituents have been quoted large and unfeasible sums for new cables to be installed, which is often their only option to improve coverage. I welcome the potential of the Shared Rural Network, the Gigabit voucher scheme and the Universal Service Obligation to help, but what reassurance can my RHF give my constituents that Government is striving to address these broadband and phone signal not-spots in rural Cumbria?”
The Prime Minister responded:
“I thank my Honourable Friend for all he does to campaign for the hard to reach areas in rural Cumbria. I know that we are doing all we can as I raise it virtually every day and we are rolling out as fast as we can. We have committed about £5bn to connect those areas, £1bn for the Shared Rural Network agreement and a voucher scheme to target predominantly rural areas but we are intending to get everything we can possibly get done in the next five years.”
Commenting after the Commons session Dr Hudson added:
“It is clear from the Prime Minister’s response that rolling out broadband and phone signal capability is high on the government’s levelling up agenda, with significant amounts of government funds being put towards improvements.
As part of my ‘Better Connectivity’ campaign I am determined that this government funding reaches the rural parts of Penrith and The Border which are yet to reap the benefits enjoyed by other parts of the country. Decent digital connectivity, which has become so integral to our work, study and social lives, even more so in the pandemic, is a fundamental necessity and not a luxury. I will keep raising this with the Government and I am really pleased that the very top of Government is so receptive.”