- 23 Dec 2020
About Scotland's Full Fibre Charter
The publication of Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter marks a significant milestone in the development of our relationship with the key commercial communications provider as we work together to extend full fibre broadband access across Scotland.
Good digital connectivity – and, with it, more easily available access to the internet – is vital for everyone in Scotland, and the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to reinforce this. It has supported our health and emergency services and enabled people to work or study from home and stay connected to friends and family during lockdown.
As we consider the best way forward for Scotland, it is obvious that the telecoms sector has a critical role to play – not just in creating and protecting good jobs across Scotland and supporting a resilient and green recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, but in ensuring inclusive long-term economic development and growth.
In enabling flexibility in the way we work, better access to good quality digital connectivity provides opportunities to access and progress in employment for those who face barriers – such as people with disabilities, those with caring responsibilities and rural and island communities. By providing greater access to education, connectivity can support children and young people in particular, to achieve their full potential, equipping them with the skills to participate and progress in life and in work. For all age groups, it can broaden access to public services and participation in democracy and tackle social isolation.
Future-proofed digital infrastructure is critical to inclusive growth and the development of a low carbon economy. Access to high speed digital connectivity will build resilience and enable businesses to grow – extending into new markets, enabling innovation and enhancing exports. This helps create jobs – not least in the sector – and protects livelihoods all around Scotland.
We have demonstrated our commitment to supporting inclusive economic growth through our significant investment in Scotland’s digital infrastructure. We are investing £600 million in our Reaching 100% (R100) programme and providing additional support through our nationwide demand-led voucher scheme which together will extend superfast broadband access to every home and business in Scotland.
Commercial investment also plays a key role in supporting digital connectivity in Scotland. We want to create an environment that sees Scotland regarded as the best place to invest in digital infrastructure; an environment that encourages and promotes commercial investment.
That is why, in March 2019, we committed to provide non-domestic rates relief on newly laid and ‘lit’ fibre for 10 years, doubling the commitment made by UK Government. The Scottish Government has listened to industry and 10 years’ relief on newly lit fibre shows that we are determined to position Scotland at the forefront of digital connectivity.
Commercial communication providers are key partners in achieving our ambitions.
Through the Full Fibre Charter for Scotland, commercial providers can deliver more and faster, working with us to deliver a future-proofed, national fibre network to support our economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and for the benefit of all.
When you sign Scotland's Full Fibre Charter, we ask you to commit to five key pledges and participate in an industry forum – allowing Scottish Government and operators to work together to maximise full fibre coverage throughout Scotland.
1. Deliver infrastructure
Accelerate our delivery of full fibre networks to all of Scotland, both through commercial rollout and if using public funding, including investing Scottish Government enabled fibre tax relief to extend coverage to areas that would otherwise be regarded as uncommercial.
2. Prioritise build
Continue to work with Scottish Government on any future Open Market Review data returns, data monitoring or other data gathering exercises to assist in identifying and prioritising areas that have no coverage for investment in new full fibre broadband and mobile connectivity.
3. Support our Digital Strategy
Support the Scottish Government’s digital connectivity objectives by contributing resources and practical support for Scotland in the deployment of full fibre and 5G networks, including actively seeking opportunities for trialing new technologies in Scotland, and improving rural connectivity.
4. Supporting and developing our workforce
We will develop our workforce in Scotland, ensuring they have the necessary skills for delivery and maintenance of full fibre networks. We will support career progression, ensuring our workforce can access opportunities that allow them to enhance their skills and experiences, for example through the use of work based learning such as Scotland’s Apprenticeship Programme. We will seek opportunities to recruit and develop under-represented groups in the sector and related STEM fields to support Scottish Government aims in the workforce, most particularly with regards to gender equality and developing the young workforce. We will have world class health and safety processes and checks, building on the industry wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Work fairly
We will ensure that our Scottish operations work towards implementing the Fair Work First approach by adopting fair working practices that focus on: appropriate channels for effective voice, such as trade union recognition; investment in workforce development; no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts; action to tackle the gender pay gap and create more diverse and inclusive workplaces, and payment of the real Living Wage.
We will seek to make a positive contribution to the national mission of creating new jobs, good jobs and green jobs. We recognise the benefits of encouraging our workforce to be healthier and more active and will seek to support the Scottish Government’s ambitions and initiatives for a healthy nation, such as the Daily Mile Nation commitment, though our health at work programmes and by removing the barriers to physical activity.
Scottish Government pledges
In return, we commit to:
1. Relieve rates
Remove non-domestic rates on all newly laid and ‘lit’ infrastructure for 10 years, from 1 April 2019, allowing reinvestment into further fibre build.
2. Identify priorities
Work with signatories to identify areas of greatest need for both full fibre broadband and mobile connectivity and how investment in Scotland’s digital infrastructure can be accelerated.
3. Identify opportunities
Work with public sector partners to encourage anchor tenancy and other use of fibre infrastructure, including promotion via the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN).
4. Overcome barriers
Work with signatories to develop solutions and implement means to investigate barriers to the efficient deployment of fibre infrastructure, working closely with the UK Government.
5. Come together/collaborate
Promote a regular open and inclusive forum for industry, facilitated by Ministers with input as appropriate from key bodies such as regulators, trade unions etc.
Fair Work: what it means
Fair Work is defined in the Fair Work Convention Framework as work which offers: effective voice; respect; fulfilment; opportunity and security for all workers, and which balances the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers. The Fair Work First approach harnesses the financial power of the Scottish Government, by extending fair work criteria, wherever appropriate, to every type of grant, funding stream and business support budget open to us and expand the range of Scottish Government and public contracts which fair work criteria will apply to.
Fair Work is at the very heart enabling a more inclusive, people-centred culture of work that supports employees and employers to shape their organisations together, and develop the skills needed for a successful future. Businesses who invest in, and engage with their workforce can expect their workers to add more value, achieve higher levels of productivity and be more resilient and responsive to change, which will be crucial in digital transformation.
Fair Work First encourages and rewards employers who commit to:
- Appropriate channels for effective voice, such as trade union recognition – effective voice, individually or collectively within the workplace underpins the other dimensions of fair work. Effective voice is much more than having a communication channel available within an organisation. It requires a safe environment where dialogue and challenge are central to the organisational culture, are dealt with constructively, and where employee views are sought out, listened to and can make a difference. The co-determination of working practices is key to delivering all of the dimensions of Fair Work effectively
- Investment in workforce development – a Fair Work environment supports the full utilisation of an individual’s skills, knowledge and experience in the workplace, and provides opportunities for them to develop and enhance their potential, experience and skill set. This maximises not only individual potential and development, but also their employment output and contribution to the business that employs them. Re-training and redeployment opportunities support long-term job security and clear and transparent criteria and opportunities for career progression should be a feature of all work.
- No inappropriate use of zero hours contracts – contractual stability should be a core employer objective. Forms of flexible working where the burden of risk falls disproportionately on workers are not fair work. Businesses which offer stable contracts and avoid insecure employment will in turn see benefits, such as: a more committed and stable workforce; lower staff turn-over and lower recruitment expense; lower stress levels among staff which means lower rates of absenteeism and sickness; more attentive and safety conscious staff with lower accident and injury rates; a better reputation as a fair and progressive employer; and, a stronger brand.
- Action to tackle the gender pay gap and create more diverse and inclusive workplaces – one of the most persistent labour market inequality challenges is the gender pay gap. Tackling the causes of the pay gap benefits individuals and businesses. Retaining and developing a diverse workforce can increase employee engagement and enhance brand image. Employers with 250 employees must now publish their gender pay gap data every year. However the Scottish Government encourages all employers regardless of size or sector to undertake an analysis of their gender and ethnicity pay gaps to understand the size and causes, identify any issues that need to be addressed, and be transparent about their actions to do so.
- Payment of the real Living Wage – ensuring staff are fairly remunerated, by paying at least the real Living Wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, is a key aspect of demonstrating commitment to fair work practices. Independent research has shown that payment of the real Living Wage, improves retention, productivity, and reduces recruitment costs. The Scottish Government encourages all employers regardless of size or sector to pay its workers the real Living Wage.
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands – Scottish Government
Andy Hepburn, Director, Fibre, UK North – Openreach
Greg Mesch, Chief Executive Officer – CityFibre
Dominique Astier, Managing Director – Axione UK