BT launches new drive to support region's firms

BT has announced a package of support to help the 479,000 small businesses in the region get better positioned for recovery and growth following the coronavirus outbreak and as they prepare for a post-Brexit future.

BT is preparing to help small businesses move to cashless transactions
BT is preparing to help small businesses move to cashless transactions

The launch of BT’s Small Business Support Scheme sees the company introduce a range of new measures to help small businesses in the West Midlands boost their connectivity, cash flow and confidence – key concerns which have been identified by 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, BT director for corporate and public sector in the Midlands, said: “With small businesses accounting for more than 99 per cent of all businesses in the West Midlands, 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.”

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Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said: “These past few months have been incredibly challenging for SMEs, and they are going to need significant support and help to rebuild and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This new scheme from BT will help do exactly that.

“Helping to relieve the pressures of cash flow, improving digital skills and subsidising the cost of upgrading to ultrafast broadband could make a real difference to local businesses in the West Midlands, and it is great to see BT offering their support in this way.”

Richard Butler, CBI regional director for the West Midlands, 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 includes funding ultrafast business connections, launching bursaries for UK tech start-ups and helping small businesses to go cashless.

BT also wants to support small businesses through mentoring and help small businesses acquire new digital skills.

Ms Walker added: “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.”

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