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Scotland announces £15m investment to boost connectivity

Funding package aimed at improving internet access for 23,000 low-income households

The Scottish government has announced new funding to help low-income families get better internet access.

The £15m package has been announced as part of the Connecting Scotland programme, which has already invested £5m to connect up to 9,000 families at high risk from Covid-19.

In this latest stage of the programme, disadvantaged families with children and young people leaving care will be prioritised. Families will receive a computing device, as well as unlimited data and technical support around aspects such as online security, for one year.

“It has never been more important to be connected and online,” said communities secretary Aileen Campbell “It enables us to access information about how to stay safe and healthy during Covid-19, keep in touch with friends and family, and study or work.

“I am therefore very pleased to be able to extend our Connecting Scotland programme and tackle the digital divide.”

The families will also get access to six months’ training and support with digital aspects. These households will be identified by local authorities and other organisations, which will apply on behalf of the families.

The Scottish government says the extension of the programme and the provision of tools needed to get online is expected to help families and young care leavers who could not otherwise afford to go online, making sure they are not further disadvantaged.

The extension of Connecting Scotland follows the Scottish government’s setbacks around the roll-out of superfast broadband to all homes and businesses promised for 2021.

The R100 programme was announced in December 2017 and was part of a 2016 Scottish parliament election manifesto commitment by the ruling SNP.

But in January 2020, the government admitted that only half of Scotland’s population would have access to connections of at least 30Mbps by 2021 and that the final target was likely to be met by the end of 2023.

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