Web grants threat to gambling and payday loan firms
6:19am Thursday 6th February 2014 in Gwent news
FIRMS that trade in gambling, adult entertainment and payday loans could be excluded from grants for help with getting faster internet connections in Newport.
Launched last month, the Super Connected Cities Voucher Scheme offers small to medium sized businesses the chance to apply for grants of £250 to £3,000 to help with connection charges to superfast or ultrafast broadband.
But Newport council’s cabinet is to consider plans to reject applications for vouchers to firms that work in the adult entertainment, payday loans and gambling sectors.
The city was one of 22 in the UK that were successful in applying for funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, winning £6 million in funding.
The application process is set nationally, but councils can implement local exceptions, and some of the other successful UK cities have decided to exclude from the scheme firms that trade in gambling and adult entertainment.
“Rejecting applications for Super Connected Cities connection vouchers from the listed industry sectors would support the council’s stated aim of safeguarding vulnerable members of the community,” a report to cabinet says.
“It would also help to validate a previous council decision to block access to the websites of payday loan companies from council owned computers.”
Newport council previously decided to block payday loans websites from its own public access computers in a bid to safeguard vulnerable people from financial exploitation.
Initial research by council officers found there are four properties in the city centre, but it is thought that further research will find others elsewhere in the city.
It is hoped that 1,700 small to medium sized firms will take up a connection under the scheme.
Applications for a connection voucher must be received by March 31 and the connection must be installed by November 2015.
Cabinet will decide whether to decline applications from the firms in the three industry sectors when it meets next Monday.
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