UK government re-announces broadband plan – for the third time

In what some have observed as being a desperate bid for positive headlines, the sitting UK government has re-announced the same broadband investment plan as it has twice before.

The £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment fund was mooted in the run-up to the Autumn Statement in late November last year, before it was officially announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Following a further commitment in the Spring Budget, headlines provided further positive coverage despite being the same amount of cash for the same plan.

This shows the paucity of the government’s strategy and vision for digital infrastructure

Now the Treasury is officially re-announcing the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund for the third time at a launch event in Peterborough on Monday hosted by Junior Treasury Minister Andrew Jones. News organisations received the invite for the event on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Jones, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, is expected to say: “We are investing £400m to make sure the UK’s digital infrastructure is match-fit for the future. As technologies change and people’s habits move with them, it is crucial we play our part to ensure Britain stays at the front of the pack.”

“Gone will be the days where parents working from home see their emails grind to a halt while a family member is gaming or streaming Game of Thrones in the next room. Full fibre will provide us with the better broadband we need to ensure we can work flexibly and productively, without connections failing.”

Following a request, the Treasury confirmed the money and the plan are the same as was previously announced.

Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow digital economy minister, told The Independent the re-announcement showed a lack of new policy thinking in government: “This shows the paucity of the government’s strategy and vision for digital infrastructure in this country that they’ve had to re-announce the same policy three times.”

“Businesses and individuals across the country are dependent on reliable internet, and the Government’s lack of progress is undeniably holding the economy back.”

It’s easy to criticise, but at least it’s not another policy U-turn.

Should the UK government be re-announcing the same broadband plan? Let us know in the comments.

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