£1bn for Broadband Quango

March 04, 2010 4:14 PM

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Government in possession of an average idea must be in want of a quango to bring it about in the most costly fashion imaginable.

And so today *fanfare* the grandly titled Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms trumpeted the arrival of the snazzily named Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK because every quango has to have an acronym).  For those of you who haven’t been keeping pace with the wildly exciting developments in the government’s efforts to drag us all kicking and screaming into the 21st century allow me to update you.  The aim is to give every household access to superfast internet access and lucky old BDUK is being handed the £1 billion cheque to spend on getting this broadband up and running across Britain.

Rural Affairs Minister, Dan Norris is really pleased about the creation of BDUK and told reporters: “The availability of next generation broadband to rural communities and businesses is vital for their growth and social links.”

Of course people living in the middle of nowhere deserve not to be stuck with dodgy dial-up, but £1billion is a huge amount to hand to yet another unaccountable quango!   One wonders how much of that big pot of money will actually go on their mission for digital Britain, and how much will be spent on setting up costs, selecting pretty office furniture, recruiting staff etc.

In short, it’s another layer of bureaucracy where’s there’s no need for it.  The Government should be helping private contractors to put these services in. There are experts in this field, like Virgin and BT, and if the Government has to get involved, then it should only be to ensure that those in non-commercially viable areas get access too.  The way to do that would not be by setting up a quango, but by providing incentives to those firms already in the market – like a tax cut, for example.

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