Councils still waiting for £530m promised by government for UK broadband scheme

Only two English councils have confirmed they have received any money from the government as part of the rural high-speed broadband scheme, according to the BBC.

The Countryside Alliance distributed Freedom of Information requests to every local council in England, receiving replies from all but six of the bodies responsible for rolling out rural broadband services.

It has emerged that by March, just over £3 million from a funding pot of £530 million had been handed over by the government – a mere 3.6 per cent of the total cash earmarked for the project. This money has found its way to only two authorities.

"We feel that the government have been talking the right game and we welcome the money but the action and support for local authorities and the delivery of local authorities has been very limited," The Countryside Alliance's Sarah Lee told the BBC.

The government announced its plans to get the whole of Britain connected to super-fast broadband back in 2011.

"Following procurement, we are at the beginning of the nationwide delivery stage, so it is to be expected that most local authorities are not at the stage where they would have claimed the money allocated to them," said a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). "Work is underway in sites across the country and we are confident the vast majority of projects will be completed by 2015."

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is the government organisation responsible for executing the rollout successfully, but its position could soon be at risk.

A government source told the BBC that "all options are on the table," in reference to BDUK's future. No decisions have yet been made, though it is understood that some DCMS figures fear that BDUK is not appropriately qualified to run the scheme effectively.

This is not the first time that the government's 2015 deadline has been thrown into doubt. Reports in July last year suggested the rollout was facing significant delays that would disrupt the entire broadband schedule.

Earlier this month, the National Audit Office criticised the broadband delivery programme, saying that the BT-dominated investment process lacked transparency and competition.