Haigh criticises “meagre” digital plan

Louise Haigh
Louise Haigh
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MILLIONS OF people will be offered help to improve their digital skills in a plan unveiled by the Government today.

Lloyds, Barclays and Google are among companies who have committed to work with the Government as part of its digital strategy.

It will also include money to support the rollout of superfast broadband and exports by Britain’s digital companies.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “The UK’s world-leading digital sectors are a major driver of growth and productivity, and we are determined to protect and strengthen them.

“This digital strategy sets a path to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research as part of the Government’s plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation.

“To do that, we will work closely with businesses and others to make sure the benefits and opportunities are spread across the country so nobody is left behind.

“There should be no digital divide - every individual and every business should have the skills and confidence to make the most of digital technology and have easy access to high-quality internet wherever they live, work, travel or learn.”

But Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Digital Economy Minister, claimed there was little new in the document.

She said: “This strategy has been delayed for well over a year and the recycled announcement and meagre commitments will leave many wondering what has taken ministers so long.

“Millions are being left in the digital slow lane yet rather than commit to universal superfast which will benefit millions the Government have, for the fourth time, re-announced a fund, first trailed sixteen months ago, which will mean that by 2020 only seven per cent of homes and businesses will receive full fibre – a coverage level Latvia and Lithuania reached in 2012.

“Our major cities, towns, swathes of our rural communities and thousands of small businesses are being left behind and the Government’s failure to use this strategy to commit to universal superfast broadband represents a missed opportunity. The Government are uniting rural farmers, urban coffee shops, and business park start-ups in a coalition against them.

Ms Haigh wants ministers to set a more ambitious target for the minimum broadband speed available to all homes and firms.