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Building Digital UK update

Volume 704: debated on Friday 3 December 2021

Broadband plays a pivotal role in today’s society. Its significance has been highlighted by covid-19 and its importance will only increase in future years. Tackling the digital divide means ensuring that everyone in the UK can access and use digital communications services. Achieving this means ensuring the right infrastructure is in place to deliver nationwide connectivity for all.

In 2020, the Government committed to a new programme of work which would see a £5 billion investment in fixed broadband infrastructure and £0.5 billion in mobile broadband infrastructure over the coming decade. The programmes are a top priority for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and represent a significant increase in ambition and scale from previous schemes.

The organisation responsible for delivering the investment in broadband infrastructure, Building Digital UK (BDUK), has historically delivered spending commitments as a directorate within the Department. However, BDUK requires expert and independent board oversight, appropriate operational autonomy and delegated authority to further drive effective delivery.

I am therefore announcing my intention to establish BDUK as a specialist delivery Executive agency of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in April 2022, to drive the effective execution of BDUK’s substantial portfolio of delivery commitments.

As an Executive agency, BDUK will be a clearly designated unit that will be administratively distinct but will remain legally within the Department.

The objectives for BDUK are complex, challenging and on a demanding timescale. The move to an Executive agency will improve the likelihood of success by enabling BDUK to deliver in a manner tailored to its specific requirements, reducing dependencies on central departmental functions for critical path activity.