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London calls for subsidised broadband

The Local Government Association is calling on the government to include a social tariff in its universal service obligation for broadband.  The subsidy would give low-income families a basic service of at least 10Mbps, it said.  According to an LGA report, one in four adults lacks basic online skills.

The body does not specify what price should be set for affordable broadband but points to an existing scheme offered by BT.  BT offers a £9.95 per month broadband and telephone service to people who receive income support, jobseeker’s allowance or other benefits.  The LGA wants to see all other providers offering similar schemes but does not specify whether the government should also contribute.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Good digital connectivity is a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help them cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, access their bank accounts and even run their own businesses.  “Many government services are going digital by default, and we need to be able to ensure that the most vulnerable and least well-off can afford to use them.”

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