MORE communities are banding together to access Government schemes to reduce the cost of rural broadband as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

With more people working from home, the voucher scheme has been an important lifeline for rural villages which have struggled to access fast internet speeds.

Homeowners can apply for vouchers worth £1,500 and small businesses can access funding worth £3,500.

Superfast Worcestershire, which manages the roll out of the high-speed internet network, has seen a spike in project activity as more communities work together to improve their connectivity.

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin whose constituency includes Tenbury was briefed on the increase in activity as part of her ongoing work to help more rural communities get access to fit-for-purpose internet speeds.

The Worcestershire county Council team also confirmed that extra interest in the voucher schemes has been driven by community-minded individuals who are helping their elderly and vulnerable neighbours with chores like shopping and collecting prescriptions during lockdown.

“Some of the extra demand is being driven by families who are now all living and working at home and struggling to access the internet at the same time,” said Mrs Baldwin.

“Similar households are now clubbing together to secure fibre upgrades by signing up for one of the national voucher schemes.

“But I have also heard heartening reports that communities are getting closer together as they help each other out during the Covid-19 crisis.

“In helping each other out, they have been able to share more information about better broadband schemes and the county council team has seen a spike in activity in recent weeks.

“Good broadband speeds are essential now more than ever, and I would encourage communities to see if there are any tips they can pick up.”