BT Scheme "can help firms boost connectivity, cash flow and confidence"

Date published: 01 August 2020

BT have announced a package of support to help the nearly 600,000 small businesses in the North West get better positioned for recovery and growth following the coronavirus outbreak and as they prepare for a post-Brexit future. 

The launch of BT’s Small Business Support Scheme sees the company introduce a range of new measures to help small business boost their connectivity, cash flow and confidence – key concerns which have been identified by Small Business Britain’s recent surveys of its membership.  

BT’s action plan includes a commitment to pay its 4,500 small business suppliers promptly and within 30 days of being invoiced, to helping firms fund the cost of ultrafast business connections, as well as access to free resources such as business mentoring, digital skills, marketing tools and mental health support. 

Sarah Walker, director of BT’s Enterprise business in the North of England, said: “Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy, high streets and communities. 

"They employ the majority of private sector workers in the UK, so their success is key to securing the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

"Small businesses in the North West deserve the support of each and every one of us to help them thrive into the future. 

“At BT, we can use our technology, scale and expertise to help small businesses kick-start recovery and growth by boosting their connectivity, cash flow and confidence. 

"So we’ve listened to the needs of small businesses and are stepping up to deliver a support scheme which should have something for everyone - whether you’re a sole trader, tech-start up, micro business or a larger firm.” 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The past few months have been the most challenging in living memory for our small businesses.

"Given that things will continue to be tough for the rest of the year, it is vital that we all do everything we can to help SME’s survive and then thrive once again. 

“With that in mind, I am pleased to see BT stepping forward with this generous package of support for small businesses across Greater Manchester.

"Helping to relieve the pressures of cash flow, improving digital skills and subsidising the cost of upgrading to ultrafast broadband could all make a big difference at this time.

"The need for digital transformation has never been more urgent and I would encourage SMEs to take advantage of the help on offer.” 

Damian Waters, Director of the CBI in the North West, added: “BT’s commitment to supporting small businesses through these tough times will be incredibly valuable.   

“The CBI has championed digital connectivity and skills as indispensable to all sectors of the economy and in every part of the UK, and this initiative focussed on support to smaller firms is particularly welcome.” 

BT’s team of 40 store based, local business consultants are on hand to help small business customers access the wide range of support available.

These specialist experts can provide personal advice around the best technology options for an individual business, together with digital skills support for employees.  

They are joined by a network of 40 BT Local Businesses around the UK - independently owned businesses who work in partnership with BT to deliver a personal, local service to small business customers across the length and breadth of the country.  

This sees BT supporting and rejuvenating the UK’s high streets, as well as levelling up the regions and devolved nations by making specialist local tech and digital skills support as accessible as possible – no matter where firms might be based. 

The launch comes as a new survey conducted by Small Business Britain and BT revealed that 70 per cent of small businesses are expecting another lockdown in 2020.

More than half of those surveyed (53 per cent) do not feel confident in the future of their business.

On the positive side, over two thirds (64 per cent) believe the Covid-19 crisis has increased public awareness and support of small businesses, while more than half (55 per cent) view the changes they’ve made to their business to adapt to the crisis as positive. 

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