THE CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has promised to review a Government decision to scrap tax relief on a scheme designed to bring high speed broadband to rural areas in South Cumbria.

MP Tim Farron received the assurance after challenging Mr Hammond in the House of Commons last week following news of the move to end 30 per cent tax relief on the Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN scheme.

The scheme has already made an impact in the South Lakeland area via the Broadband for the Mint and Sprint project, which was created under the auspices of the B4RN programme.

And the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP told Mr Hammond the Treasury’s decision to stop the tax relief allowance for Community Benefit Societies such as B4RN “could undermine the good work of broadband pioneers such as B4RN in Cumbria.”

In response, Mr Hammond said that the Government wanted to “encourage the delivery of high-speed connectivity in all areas including rural areas” and told Mr Farron he’d be “very happy to look at it and get back to him”.

“B4RN have worked absolute wonders providing some of the fastest internet speeds in the country to some of our most rural communities,” said Mr Farron afterwards.

“The Government’s nonsensical decision to make it less attractive for people to invest into B4RN could be bad news for local people and businesses.

“The Chancellor must reverse this decision now.”

Dan Robinson, voluntary manager of the Broadband for the Mint and Sprint project which has seen residents make considerable personal investments to ensure its success, is nearing the completion of its aim to bring high speed broadband to the Longsleddale area north of Kendal, welcomed Mr Farron’s efforts.

“It makes no sense to scrap the tax relief, which has been a big incentive for people to invest in non-profit making schemes which benefit the whole community,” he said.

“We are really grateful to Tim Farron for raising this matter in Parliament.”