A LOCAL MP has welcomed news that more than 50,000 rural homes and businesses could be eligible for broadband upgrades, thanks to a collaboration between the UK and Welsh Government.

Simon Baynes, MP for Clwyd South, has applauded an announcement that residents and businesses will have access to more funding for better broadband, as the Welsh Government “tops up” the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

The scheme helps people with funding to cover the upfront costs of installing new gigabit-capable internet connections.

Vouchers worth up to £7,000 for SMEs and £3,000 for rural residential premises subsidise the cost of building out next-generation broadband infrastructure - such as fibre-optic cables - to rural villages and towns, so they don’t miss out on much faster speeds.

They also incentivise other broadband companies to build in these areas.

Simon Baynes MP said: “This announcement is good news for Wales and Clwyd South. Better broadband strengthens our rural economy and gives a big boost to those people working and running a business from home at the moment due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The extension of this scheme will ensure Clwyd South residents, particularly in areas like the Ceiriog Valley, have access to reliable broadband speeds – a big step forwards in our plans to build a broadband network that is fit for the future in the area.”

The review of the Clwyd South constituency - which covers part of Denbighshire and part of Wrexham - found that 4,509 properties in Denbighshire and 2,700 in Wrexham do not currently have access to superfast broadband.

Matt Warman, UK Government Minister for Digital Infrastructure, added: “Our £1.8 billion superfast broadband programme transformed Wales’ digital landscape, allowing many people to work remotely during lockdown.

“We are now focusing on future-proofing internet networks with gigabit speeds and, working with the Welsh Government, I am pleased to offer even more vital funding to bring this next-generation connectivity to rural businesses and homes suffering with slow speeds.

“I encourage all those who qualify to apply to feel the benefits of much faster internet connections.”