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UK government extends ultrafast broadband to 12 more cities

Chancellor's Autumn Statement has a surprise broadband windfall
Wed Dec 05 2012, 15:32
George Osborne

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced a £5bn infrastructure spending plan that will include extending ultrafast broadband to 12 more UK cities.

The plans were revealed in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement delivered to the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon.

Following a competitive bidding process, selected smaller cities will benefit from a total of £50m of the additional infrastructure spending.

The smaller cities selected are Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Oxford, Portsmouth, Salford, York, Newport, Londonderry, Aberdeen and Perth.

The above are in addition to 10 of the UK's largest cities, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh, that have already been given £114m to the fund the rollout of ultrafast broadband.

Much of the infrastructure investment will come from welfare cuts and further cuts to Whitehall departmental budgets. Osborne urged government departments to make greater use of digital channels while reducing office space, and said that such moves could save the taxpayer £1bn.

Osborne also said that HMRC would be the only government department to be given increased funds and this would be partly in order to help the department chase down companies evading corporation tax.

In the past few weeks, headlines have focused on Starbucks, Amazon and Google not paying their fair share of corporation tax. Since Starbucks has backed down, it is now only the latter two information technology companies that are still under fire for their accounting practices.

"We want the most competitive corporate tax system in the world," said Osborne in his speech. "And we expect corporate taxes to be paid."

Osborne also offered good news to the start-up sector by offering business tax cuts and £1.5bn in loans to finance small firms' exports.

The chancellor announced £600m in funding for Research Council infrastructure, and said this investment will support the development of "innovative technologies" and strengthen the UK's offerings in areas such as big data and energy efficient computing.

The UK's creative industries will also be given £6m of investment to help ensure that they have the skilled workforce they need to compete in a fast-moving world market. The new money will be used to provide entry level and professional level training for up to 3,300 people.

Finally, the government also announced plans to simplify the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme from 2013, in order to provide administrative savings for businesses. The CRC's Performance League Table will be abolished to further simplify the scheme. µ


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