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BT unveils new action plan to help build recovery for small businesses

BT has announced an unprecedented package of support to help the 265,000 small businesses in Wales get better positioned for recovery and growth following the coronavirus outbreak and as they prepare for a post-Brexit future.

In 2019, 99.4% of total businesses active in Wales were small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Wales has larger proportions of employment in SMEs than the rest of the UK, with SMEs accounting for 62.4% of employment, compared to 60% for the UK.

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, cashflow 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.

The launch comes as a new survey conducted by Small Business Britain and BT revealed that 67 per cent of small businesses surveyed in Wales are expecting another lockdown in 2020. More than half of those surveyed [60 per cent] do not feel confident in their business. On the positive side, 57 per cent believe the Covid-19 crisis has increased public awareness and support of small businesses, while 57 per cent view the changes they’ve made to their business to adapt to the crisis as positive.

Sam Toombs, Director for BT’s Enterprise business in Wales, said: “With small businesses accounting for more than 99 per cent of all businesses in Wales, 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.

“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.”

Ken Skates, Welsh Government Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “The past few months have been extremely challenging for SMEs across the country.  We have responded with the most generous package of support for businesses in the UK.  Our unique Economic Resilience Fund has provided almost £138m to Micro and SME firms already, and has helped protect almost 75,000 jobs.

“It’s good to see BT provide additional support services, advice and backing for SMEs during this difficult time.”

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, 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.”