THOUSANDS more rural residents and traders struggling with slow internet speeds are set to be included in a scheme to extend access to superfast broadband.

Ed Vaizey, culture, communications and creative industries minister, said he hoped to make an announcement in the near future about how a £250m Government injection to close the digital divide between town and country would be allocated.

During an MPs’ debate in the Houses of Parliament about the Government’s high-speed broadband flagship scheme in North Yorkshire, Mr Vaizey had been warned that work to provide the maximum number of properties with fast internet speeds could be harmed if the new funding was not made available.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said while phase one of the scheme, to provide 25MB speeds to 90 per cent of the county’s properties, was expected to be completed in North Yorkshire by October, it appeared the target nationally had been pushed back to the end of 2016.

He said: “I remain concerned there is a deepening digital divide between the 90 per cent and the ten per cent, who appear to being left behind by phase one of the roll-out.”

Mr Sturdy said despite receiving £8m funding to extend superfast internet, bringing coverage to 93 per cent of the county's properties, Superfast North Yorkshire’s scheme would be halted by summer 2015 as it waited for the next tranche of Government money for phase two.

He said: “Given the complexities of procurement and the roll-out, it would be a tremendous shame for Superfast North Yorkshire to have to kick start the roll-out again in 2016, effectively losing a lot of the skills they have built up over a 12-month shutdown.”

Mr Vaizey said while North Yorkshire stood out as one of the most successful rural high-speed broadband schemes, he wanted to allocate funding to increase the coverage as soon as possible.

He admitted while more than 95,000 premises were linked to 370 high-speed broadband cabinets in North Yorkshire, only 86,000 of the properties had internet speeds of 25MB or more due to their distance from the cabinets.

He said: “I can be certain that good partners like North Yorkshire will receive appropriate funding to carry on the good work they are doing.”

Mr Vaizey added the Government was examining how to allocate a further £10m of funding to provide 100 per cent coverage in some rural areas.