New bill offers full tax relief, saving businesses an estimated £60m
“We want Britain to remain the digital world leader that it is,” digital minister Matt Hancock said Credit: PA
The government is to completely do away with business rates on network operators’ investments in fibre broadband, in a new bill it claims will help create the “gold standard of full-fibre broadband and future 5G communications”.
The Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Commons yesterday, offers 100% relief on business rates for telecoms operators that install new fibre technology on their networks. The relief, which is backdated to 1 April, will apply for five years. The government claims the measure will save businesses a cumulative total of £60m.
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Minister of state for digital Matt Hancock said: “We want Britain to remain the digital world leader that it is, and that means having the right infrastructure in place that will allow us to keep up with the rapid advances in technology now and in the future.
He added: “We want to see more commercial investment in the gold-standard connectivity that full-fibre provides, and the 100% business rate relief and the Digital Infrastructure investment fund will provide a strong incentive for this.”
The tax-relief measures follow on from the £1bn of funding for digital infrastructure – including £400m for “emerging fibre broadband providers” – unveiled in the 2016 Autumn Statement. Minister for local government Marcus Jones said that the new bill sees the government “going one step further” in its plans to provide the UK with better broadband connectivity.
“Regardless of where you live or work, we want everyone to benefit from access to the fast, affordable and reliable broadband they need to thrive,” he said. “From making it easier to work from home to allowing digital businesses to flourish, our measures are creating the right conditions for more high-skilled, high-paid jobs of the future.”