While the government works to bring reliable, lightning-fast broadband to everyone, it provided immediate help through vouchers to cover the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband (up to 1000 megabits/second) to those with slow speeds and in hard-to-reach places. As part of a consortium with Hatch and Belmana, Winning Moves helped to evaluate the impact and process of the two Building Digital UK (BDUK) schemes. The report has just been published.
🔹The original scheme, Gigabit Voucher Scheme (GBVS), was designed to stimulate the rollout of gigabit-capable infrastructure and enable the market to move further and faster through the use of vouchers. It was offered to businesses and residents and ran from 2017 – 21. Nearly 30,000 premises were connected.
🔹The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme focused on rural areas with low connection speeds and offered the vouchers for projects that involved more than two premises. RGC ran from 2019 – 22 and reached more than 23,000 premises.
While it is still too early to assess the full impact of the schemes, the report provides clear evidence of a range of benefits for households, businesses and the environment, including those outlined below. We look forward to reporting on the full impact of this project in the third and final evaluation, which will be delivered in 2026.
🔹 Accelerating increases in average download speeds. Areas that received vouchers had significantly higher average download speeds than control areas.
🔹The scheme increasingly targeted areas that most need support. Rural participants were significantly more likely to say they could not have upgraded their broadband connection without the voucher, than those who participated in the GBVS scheme.
🔹Supporting growth of high productivity jobs. The number of employees in businesses that received the vouchers grew by 9.9%, 4 points more than in control areas. Those who moved into the jobs received higher than average pay-rises.
🔹Improving the wellbeing of households. Households gained a wide range of benefits from their broadband upgrade including improved work-life balance, reduced stress, new skills and qualifications, increased earnings and reduced loneliness.
🔹Carbon savings through reduced travel. Since the upgrade, households reduced their travel by over 500,000 miles a week, resulting in an estimated net reduction of CO2 over a three-year period.
🔹Helping households adapt through the pandemic. 79% of participants said their broadband upgrade helped them to adapt through the pandemic, with some describing it as “transformational”, “a lifeline”, or a “godsend.”
The full report can be found on the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology’s website here.
Winning Moves conducts research and evaluation on projects like this to help changemakers make better informed decisions and make the world a better place. You can find out more about our R&E work, including case studies, publications and our team here.