Broadband blocked by Treasury, warns e-envoy

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Broadband blocked by Treasury, warns e-envoy

Bruce Ackland
E-envoy Andrew Pinder has warned UK businesses that they must convince the Treasury of the importance of broadband technology or lose out.

Pinder bluntly told delegates at the national conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that the chancellor, Gordon Brown, is less than enthusiastic about further funding for broadband.

He said the Treasury seems unconvinced of the importance of broadband because, it claims, "small firms in the big cities are hardly using it".

Pinder echoed concerns raised by the Communication Managers Association (CMA) at its conference last week regarding the prospect of tax breaks for investment in broadband.

CMA director general David Harrington told CW360.com: "Cash is the key to the problem, the Treasury will decide on this and it will have to take the view that short-term pain is worth it for long-term gain and I am not sure the Treasury will do this."

Talking frankly about the government e-targets, Pinder said they were likely to be "crudely" met in order to hit Tony Blair's goal of all services being online by 2005.

The most difficult e-target, he said, was ensuring that online services were used and he told the CBI that failure to achieve this would mean a huge amount of public money would have been wasted.

Pinder used the Inland Revenue's online tax return system as a prime example of a project that was not successful because only a small number of taxpayers are actually using it.

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