BT ‘Ripping Off the Taxpayers’, say MPs

BT ‘Ripping Off the Taxpayers’, say MPs

The taxpayer is being “ripped off” over the cost of rolling out broadband to rural areas of the UK, a report has found.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says that the British government “mismanaged” the project by awarding all 26 rural broadband contracts to BT.

In its report, the MPs said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport allowed BT to profit from £1.2bn of taxpayers’ assets after no other companies won a single contract to increase broadband coverage across Britain.

Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, was forced to deny Mrs Hodge’s claims and said that BT, the UK’s biggest telecommunications provider, was giving the taxpayer the “best value for money”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme Mrs Hodge who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee said: “Too many people will not be able to access super-fast broadband because BT will have failed to deliver it to them and the taxpayer has been ripped off with £1.2bn going to the shareholders of BT.”

She added: “If you (the government) had devised it differently, had bigger areas for the contracts so you could spread your costs more, allowed different technologies to be used and insisted on a 100% coverage, we would have found other people in the game and I bet we would have spent less of the taxpayers money.”

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