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The government's plans to improve broadband connectivity do not focus heavily enough on rural areas, the CLA has said.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced in this week's Autumn Statement that £400 million is to be put towards improving the UK's fibre broadband infrastructure.

The money will be placed in a Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, with cash shared between fibre broadband providers seeking to expand, while private investors will be asked to match the amount put forward by the government.

A further £740 million will be put towards developing 5G services and a scheme that enables local authorities to bid for fibre connectivity.

However, the CLA believes the government's plans are too heavily focused on giving city-based homes and businesses access to fibre broadband.

President of the body Ross Murray said: "There is little comfort in this for rural people still struggling to get minimum connection speeds. 

"Connecting the ‘final five per cent’ of rural communities and businesses must remain the priority until the job is done.

"Action to reduce rates bills for fibre optic broadband infrastructure creates an opportunity to increase the affordability of roll-out in more rural areas and we will press for the industry to deliver on it."

Mr Murray added that the CLA will continue making the case for the delivery of an economic vision that delivers increased productivity in the rural economy.

Speaking to MPs in his keynote speech earlier this week, Mr Hammond argued that the UK's future transport, business and lifestyle needs will require "world-class digital infrastructure to underpin them".

He said his ambition is for the country to become a world leader in 5G, which means "a full-fibre network; a step-change in speed, security and reliability"

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