Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his Budget 2017 speech today, reiterating the Government’s objective to put the UK “at the forefront of the global technology revolution”. The Chancellor announced further details on the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) presented in the Autumn Statement and on the new Government 5G Strategy launched today.
Last week the DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) introduced in Parliament a Local Government Finance Bill offering full fibre infrastructure providers a £60million saving. This is part of the Government’s measures announced in the Autumn Statement, to boost UK digital connectivity. The Bill sets out the detail on a new 100% business rates relief on new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5-year period from 1 April 2017. This tax relief is designed to support the roll-out of full fibre to more homes and businesses and to “help get the UK ready for 5G”.
The Government has briefed that it will be unveiling two new programmes in tomorrow’s Autumn Statement to make good on its view that the future is fibre (to the premise variety) and 5G. The BSG welcomes this focus on digital connectivity. All BSG members believe that good quality broadband underpins, drives and improves our society and economy.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) announced last week a fourfold rise in business rates (taxes on the value of real estates) on some major infrastructure providers’ bills. The revaluation was judged “excessive” by BT, whose Bill increases from £165m to £743m per annum, who added that the increase in rates will likely lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses. Virgin Media echoed BT’s concerns on the likely negative impact of the increase on future investment decision in telecoms infrastructure.