Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Jamie Stone has today accused the Scottish Government of short changing his constituents after a Freedom of Information request revealed that households in the North have received less than the value of subsidised broadband vouchers compared to South and Central regions, despite having more eligible households than the other two regions combined and similar numbers of households in each region applying for them.
The interim voucher scheme allows remote and rural homes and businesses across Scotland to apply for a subsidy of up to £400 towards their broadband connection.
The R100 interim voucher is available to all homes and businesses with speeds less than 30Mbps that are due to be connected by the R100 contracts or a commercial supplier after 2021.
A freedom of information request published by the Scottish Government reveals that as of 11 February 2022, the following amounts had been issued to properties in each of the R100 lots to provide interim vouchers worth up to £400:
Lot 1 (North) = £35,597.79
Lot 2 (Central) = £78,393.60
Lot 3 (South) = £80,775.92
350 homes in the North have applied for the IVS, compared to 313 in Central and 329 in South.
There are currently 67,650 households in the North eligible to apply for the interim voucher, compared to 37,273 in Central and 19,133 in South.
Jamie Stone said:
“First my constituents miss out on high-speed broadband, then they miss out on the scheme to help those who miss out on high-speed broadband.
“People in the Highlands are being short-changed by an SNP government which struggles to look beyond the end of its own nose.
“Good quality internet is essential for starting businesses, securing a good education and even attending medical appointments in remote and rural corners of Scotland.
“With the cost-of-living crisis spiking, The Scottish Government need to re-open this scheme and ensure that my constituents don’t miss out on financial support that could make a huge difference.”