Contributed by CBI
31/07/2020 - BT
BT has announced an unprecedented support package to help the 598,000 small businesses in the East of England get better positioned for recovery and growth following the coronavirus outbreak and as they prepare for a post-Brexit future.
Today’s 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.
Jon Pollock, BT director for corporate and public sector in the East of England, said: “With small businesses accounting for more than 99 per cent of all businesses in the East of England**, they are the beating heart of our economy, high streets and communities. They deserve the support of each and every one of us to help them thrive into the future.”
Richard Tunnicliffe, CBI regional director for the East of England, said: “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 Small Business Support Scheme comprises the following measures:
Commenting on the details of the new support package, Mr Pollock said: “At BT, we can use our technology, scale and expertise to help small businesses kick-start recovery and growth by boosting their connectivity, cashflow 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.”
Case study – Leeds Day Solicitors
Christopher Dodd, partner at Leeds Day Solicitors, which has offices in Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots in Cambridgeshire, said BT helped enable a smooth transition to home working for their staff during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
He said: “As the country shifted into Lockdown back in March, it was clear that in order to keep our firm running, we quickly needed to enable our employees to be able to work remotely from home. Enabling staff to receive and make calls from a work number was our main priority. With an existing EE business account, I reached out to EE/BT see how they could help and was put in touch with Wayne in the EE/ BT Team.
“Wayne was so helpful and managed to sort an order of SIMs to arrive within 24 hours. It was marvellous how quickly everything was put in place, we’re now starting a phased return to work, but critically have everything in place if we do need to shift our working model again due to another lockdown.”
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.
 Based on Small Business Britain Survey Data from May, 2020
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