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The government's announcement that broadband will not automatically be made available to rural communities has been criticised.

Ministers confirmed recently that homes and businesses in rural communities will have to request high-quality broadband connectivity, due to the high costs of providing access to premises in remote areas.

However, charity group Rural Support believes this goes against what rural dwellers were "led to believe they would be receiving", Farming Life reports.

Dr Jude McCann, chief executive of the body, commented: "We had been promised by the government on various occasions that all households and businesses would have broadband coverage, and indeed, that the UK would have the best service provision on Europe. 

"This announcement undermines this, and leaves rural families and businesses with more uncertainty than ever about when, or indeed if, they’ll get the same services as their urban counterparts.”

Dr McCann insisted the internet is vital for rural dwellers in many ways. For instance, he said social media is now a key way for people to communicate and engage with public life and current affairs.

Furthermore, he pointed out that inadequate broadband disadvantages rural dwellers in terms of flexible working, education and limits their access to online information and advice.

Dr McCann went on to raise concerns with a push from HM Revenue & Customs to get people completing their quarterly tax returns online.

"We are in real danger here of placing requirements on rural families and businesses before we give them the platform to be able to comply," he argued. "That is profoundly unfair, and confounds logic and common sense."

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