SCOTLAND should be given its share of UK broadband funding, according to Rural Economy and Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing.

Ewing has written to Matt Hancock, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, saying it would be “grossly unfair” if Scotland was excluded from the UK Government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) to deliver 10Mbps broadband to 100 per cent of premises.

Scottish premises have been deemed ineligible, and Ewing has demanded clarity over what the country stands to receive from the USO.

He wanted confirmation that the USO would tie in with Scotland’s Reaching 100% broadband programme and allow the Scottish Government to access some benefits.

Ahead of his appearance at the Scottish Affairs Committee, Ewing said: “This USO will be funded by industry, who are in turn likely to pass on the costs to consumers across the UK.

“If excluded from the USO, people in Scotland would get nothing back despite contributing funding.”

Ewing added: “This is grossly unfair as this funding could be used to deliver additional benefits for Scotland.

“This is indicative of the UK Government’s approach to broadband rollout thus far which has been to ignore the needs of Scotland, particularly our rural areas, and instead rely on an entirely industry-led model which would leave large parts of rural Scotland completely disconnected.”

He said the £600 million Reaching 100% programme would connect all Scottish premises, but the collaboration he wanted to see would allow the Scottish Government to unlock “significant savings”, to which Scottish consumers had a right.

“I have therefore asked the Secretary of State for Digital for clarity about whether the UK Government intends to collaborate, and avoid cutting Scottish consumers out completely,” said Ewing.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government said: “The Universal Service Obligation will benefit citizens across the UK and help ensure people in remote places are connected.

“Everyone will have a legal right to an affordable, high speed connection no matter where they live or work.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that although the USO minimum speed will initially be set at a minimum of 10Mbps, this would be kept under review and the department expected it to be increased over time.

Ewing will give evidence to a Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into digital connectivity tomorrow, along with the programme directors of Reaching 100% and Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, the two agencies tasked with improving connectivity here.

Power to legislate on telecommunications is held by Westminster, with the practical delivery of broadband and mobile coverage is led by the Scottish Government, and committee members will examine how the relationship works in practice.

The session will also look at how the USO will work with the Scottish Government’s own programme.

Committee chair Peter Wishart said: “We want to ensure that the relationship between the UK and Scottish Government is sufficiently constructive to properly enable effective roll out of broadband across Scotland and we will be asking the minister his view on some of the comments made by UK ministers about the situation in Scotland.

“The UK Government’s recent pledge to ‘work more directly with local authorities’, and the development of initiatives such as City Deals, Urban Connected Communities and full-fibre network scheme, also raises questions.”