YORKSHIRE cities are setting the national pace and creating hundreds of jobs as companies sign up to the high-speed internet revolution.
More than 800 small businesses in Leeds and Bradford have taken advantage of a Government-backed internet connectivity scheme since it was launched in February.
Part of the Superconnected Cities programme, it provides firms with funding to cover the costs of installing high-speed internet systems.
Leeds and Bradford’s take-up of the voucher scheme – worth up to £3,000 to each business – is the highest for any area outside London.
Companies that have benefited from improved connectivity can expect to see their turnover rise by an average of £148,000. An average of 2.1 new jobs for each firm is also likely to be created.
Reacting to the figures, Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for transport and the economy, said: “We are seeing escalating application rates for the vouchers as word spreads about just how transformational the step up to high-speed internet can be for smaller businesses.
“That’s having a knock-on positive economic impact as companies maximise their potential to become more productive and efficient.”
Funding is also available to landlords and groups of companies located in the same building or business park.
Superconnected Leeds Bradford programme manager Mark Durham said: “We’ve seen group applications leverage some quite hefty buying power.
“The grants can be combined and we’ve approved a number of group applications, including one where a group of businesses received £66,000 towards an upgrade in their broadband connectivity.
“It’s a simple and swift process and you will usually hear within 24 hours whether you have been successful.”
The Superconnected Cities programme at one stage had a cut-off point of next March but Chancellor George Osborne recently extended funding until March 2016.