Small businesses not yet capitalising on potential of online technology, according to new report

UK small and medium-sized companies missing out on economic returns of £18.8bn says BSG

Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses are not “unlocking” the commercial potential of online activity and new technologies, a report published by government broadband advisors the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) suggests.

Using data on business engagement with connectivity and policy initiatives, as well as independent research, the report entitled Capitalising on Connectivity: Realising the benefits of broadband for UK Small and Medium Sized Enterprises argues that small firms are not leveraging broadband and digital solutions for economic growth; “missing out” on an estimated £18.8bn in returns.

Produced as part of its remit to advance thinking and policy on broadband issues, the report suggests that UK businesses require a better understanding of digital technology and argues that the government should be doing more to encourage entrepreneurs to take-up online solutions.

Looking into the ways in which broadband and online usage could be improved, the report says government should gather more data about businesses broadband use, facilitated using the biannual small business survey, and says government should make resources available to assist local authorities with broadband implementation.

It also argues that there is a need for an online platform which would highlight the benefits of broadband and digital solutions with the goal to persuade more small businesses to engage in online activity.

In addition, the report “urges government to consider” driving broadband uptake by providing financial incentives such as money off for submitting VAT returns online or reductions for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) submissions made through HMRC’s online portal.

BSG CEO, Pamela Learmonth, discussed the report and the BSG’s recommendations:

“Whilst tackling infrastructure issues is costly and time consuming, understanding usage of infrastructure and communicating the benefits of doing more online is arguably even more challenging.

“Given the high importance of capturing the economic benefits from both private and public investment in broadband, we hope this report is a useful input, building on existing initiatives to ensure the UK’s small and medium enterprises really do capitalise on the connectivity available to them.”

Read the full report here.

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