BBC to help fund rural broadband

Government spending review gives broadcaster role in funding rural ‘superfast’ broadband. Plus, IT to help cut benefit fraud

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The BBC is to share the cost of extending ‘superfast’ broadband to rural areas, chancellor George Osborne announced in his comprehensive spending review today.

The national broadcaster will pay for some of the £530 million rural broadband scheme, Osborne said. The scheme will begin with pilot projects in the Highlands, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Herefordshire.

The BBC will also reduce its spending on online services.

In other IT related news, Osborne said that the government will spend £900 million on systems to tackle tax fraud, which he said costs the country £7 billion annually.

Osborne also revealed that the budget of every single government department will be cut by at least a year. He said that redundancies were “inevitable”, but that it was up to the discretion of each department how many there would be.

In recognition of its contribution to the country’s economic development, science funding will remain constant in cash terms, Osborne says, although critics say this equates to a 9% cut over three years in real terms.