BT has announced an unprecedented support package designed to help the 265,000 small businesses in Wales better prepare for the post-Coronavirus outbreak and prepare for a future after Brexit.
In 2019, 99.4% of all businesses in Wales were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Wales has a larger share of employment in SMEs than the rest of the UK, with SMEs accounting for 62.4% ** compared to 60% in the UK.
With the launch of BT's Small Business Support Scheme, the company is introducing a number of new measures to help small businesses improve their connectivity, cash flow, and trust – key concerns that have emerged in Small Business Britain's recent surveys Membership has been established.
BT's action plan includes an obligation to pay 4,500 small business suppliers immediately and within 30 days of invoicing to help businesses fund the cost of ultra-fast business connections, as well as access to free resources such as business mentoring, digital skills and Marketing tools and psychological support.
It started as a new survey by Small Business Britain and BT showed that 67 percent of small businesses surveyed in Wales expect another blockage in 2020. More than half of the respondents (60 percent) do not feel safe in their business. On a positive note, 57 percent think the Covid 19 crisis has increased public awareness and support for small businesses, while 57 percent said the changes they made to their company to address the crisis adapt, evaluate as positive.
Sam Toombs, director of BT's business in Wales, said:
“With small businesses that make up more than 99 percent of all businesses in Wales ***, they are the beating heart of our economy, our main streets and communities. They deserve the support of each and every one of us so that they can thrive in the future.
“At BT, we can use our technology, scalability, and expertise to help small businesses drive recovery and growth by improving their connectivity, cash flow, and trust. So we've listened to the needs of small businesses, and we're striving to provide a support program that offers something for everyone, whether you're a sole proprietor, tech start-up, micro company, or a larger company. "
Ken Skates, Welsh Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, said:
“The past few months have been extremely challenging for SMEs across the country. We responded with the most generous business support package in the UK. Our unique Economic Resilience Fund has already provided almost £ 138m to micro and SME companies and helped protect almost 75,000 jobs.
"It is good to see that BT provides additional support, advice and support for SMEs during this difficult time."
Ian Price, director of CBI Wales, said:
“BT's commitment to supporting small businesses in these difficult times will be incredibly valuable.
"The CBI is committed to digital connectivity and skills that are indispensable for all industries and in all parts of the UK. This initiative, which focuses on supporting smaller businesses, is particularly welcome."
BT's Small Business Support Scheme includes the following measures:
- Financing ultra-fast business connections: BT will help small businesses fund the cost of an ultra-fast business connection (called an ethernet line) by subsidizing the total cost by up to £ 2,500 per customer. In addition, the Welsh government in Wales announced in June that the value of broadband vouchers for SMEs in rural areas would double to support the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband. Vouchers worth up to £ 3,500 have been available to rural SMEs in Wales since May 2019. The announcement means that the maximum government funding available through each voucher is now up to £ 7,000 for rural SMEs.
- Start of grants for British tech startups: BT launches a new scholarship program to give 1,000 UK technology startups and entrepreneurs a financial edge. Starting in October, eligible companies can apply for a scholarship to benefit from free fiber broadband and cell phone packages. Further details will be announced in due course.
- Introducing BT Halo for Business: BT launched the UK's only converged fiber broadband, mobile and digital phone line package for small businesses, which makes up 91 percent of all businesses in the UK. By combining three powerful connections in one package, Halo helps companies stay connected both inside and outside the workplace, so they never miss an important call or sale.
- Helping Small Businesses Get Cashless: BT is preparing to launch a new digital payment solution to help small businesses transition to cashless transactions. This is a trend that is accelerating as a result of the pandemic. 25 percent of small businesses have increasingly used contactless payments in recent months. Further details will be announced in due course.
Better cash flow:
- Immediate payment for BT small business suppliers: With 58 percent (1) of small businesses citing cash flow as their primary concern, BT is committed to paying its 4,500 small business suppliers within 30 days of invoicing. BT thus halves the 60-day deadline set in the government's Prompt Payment Code.
- Financial flexibility for the most affected: BT helped small businesses in financial need during the pandemic's climax by helping them find a flexible option to pay their bill. This will continue in the coming months, with BT putting together a dedicated team to support customers struggling with aspects of their bill due to the pandemic.
Build up trust:
- Helping small businesses access the full capabilities of digital and social media advertising: With 63 percent of small businesses wanting more marketing and sales support, BT wants to help small businesses across the UK promote their goods and services online. Further details will be announced in due course.
- Supporting small businesses through mentoring: BT is launching a new mentoring program for small businesses to give them free access to their expertise in strategy, marketing, sales and more. BT will support businesses through Digital Boost, a free, nonprofit platform that brings digital experts together with small business executives and charities. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
- Helping small businesses acquire new digital skills: BT's goal is to reach 1 million small business owners and their employees with digital skills by 2025. 46 percent expect that they will increasingly use digital tools after the pandemic. BT has already helped tens of thousands of small businesses train their digital skills with its Skills for Tomorrow program and released new learning content on key topics, including preventing cyberattacks and using social media to reach new customers.
- Supporting wellbeing: BT is aware that it is a very worrying and uncertain time for small businesses. Therefore, we offer our customers access to expertise to maintain their wellbeing by improving their mental and physical health. This is provided by a free online toolkit and webinar series designed specifically for small businesses
Ms. Toombs commented on the details of the new support package as follows: “
At BT, we can use our technology, scalability, and expertise to help small businesses drive recovery and growth by improving their connectivity, cash flow, and trust. So we listened to the needs of small businesses and strive to provide a support program that offers something for everyone – whether you're a sole proprietor, tech start-up, micro company, or a larger company. "