WORCESTERSHIRE County Council has announced it will be reinvesting up to £1million to get high-speed broadband out to the most rural parts of the county.

The funding will top-up the government’s existing Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to help people in hard-to-reach locations get a fast and reliable broadband service.

Cabinet member for economy and infrastructure, Councillor Ken Pollock, said: “Nearly 97 per cent of Worcestershire can now access superfast broadband with speeds of at least 24 megabits per second.

“This is a fantastic achievement; however, we are not stopping there.

"This is why we’re adding £1 million from the previously invested £8.5 million towards the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to target so-called broadband not-spots in the county.

“This is a great opportunity for Worcestershire, as we have already worked with over 100 communities and managed to secure more than £2.2 million worth of vouchers."

In some cases, the voucher amount was not enough to pay for the infrastructure upgrade. This top-up funding means many more schemes can be funded, providing this future-proofed connectivity to thousands more homes in the most rural locations which are otherwise unlikely to get it for many years.

Digital infrastructure minister, Matt Warman, said: “This government believes access to fast and reliable broadband is essential to modern life and should be available to all, which is why I’m delighted to see Worcestershire County Council joining forces with us in our mission to deliver next-generation speeds to the most remote areas of the country.

“I hope this welcome boost to our programme will encourage even more people in Worcestershire to join the digital fast lane.”

The upgrade will mean people in rural areas will be better equipped to stay in touch with loved ones and work from home.

The funding for the vouchers will be distributed on a first come, first served basis until the end of March 2021, when the scheme will close.

To qualify for the scheme, residents must live in a rural area, be unable to get broadband speeds of 100Mbps or more, not be in an existing government-funded plan for a broadband upgrade, and apply as a group of two or more premises.

The government’s £200 million Gigabit Broadband Vouchers Scheme currently provides up to £3,500 funding for eligible businesses and up to £1,500 for eligible residential properties to install gigabit-capable connections.

The extra £1 million will be used to match the funding so that eligible businesses can now apply for up to a maximum of £7,000 and eligible residential properties up to £3,000.

Visit gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk to find a list of suppliers in their local area. A list of frequently asked questions is available at superfastworcestershire.com/#faqs.