BT launches small business support programmes across Northern Ireland

  • BT has announced a substantial range of support it will be providing to small businesses in the UK, from business internet vouchers to mentorship programmes.

    Small businesses are some of the most affected by the coronavirus outbreak as they can't afford to absorb the financial impact of temporarily decreased trade or adapting stores to re-open with restrictions. The UK government and Northern Ireland Assembly have put in place plans to support some small businesses but not everyone can benefit from them.

    BT has now announced its own package of support to help over 124,000 small businesses in Northern Ireland. It includes plans to help small businesses get connected, help with cash flow, and small business mentorship to help businesses survive not just the coronavirus pandemic but also the impending cliff edge of Brexit. The support includes:

    • Subsidising the cost of its ultrafast business connection (known as an Ethernet line) by £2500 per business, extending the benefits of the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme that ended in May. Flexibility on paying bills will also be offered to existing clients who can't pay right now due to cashflow issues.
    • A new bursary scheme will soon be announced to give 1,000 UK tech start-ups and entrepreneurs free fibre broadband and mobile bundles. BT is also launching a new BT Halo for Business package is being designed that includes fibre, mobile, and digital phone line as it better suits the needs of small businesses.

    • A new digital payments solution will be launching soom to help small businesses that usually deal with cash to move to cashless transactions. BT will also be giving small businesses support to access digital and social media advertising (more details to come).
    • BT will be launching a series of free mentorship programmes in the areas of strategy, marketing, sales, and more, via its non-profit Digital Boost platform. Further details on this scheme are to come. It will also be running free learning programmes on digital skills and wellbeing.

       

    The plan also includes a commitment from BT to pay invoices from its 4,500 small business suppliers within 30 days to help them cashflow effectively. Paying invoices within 30 days is the law in the UK unless another term is agreed on, and most large firms operate on a maximum of 60 day terms stipulated by the Government’s Prompt Payment Code. A report by Lloyds Bank and the UK's Small Business Commissioner last year showed that around 65% of large businesses in the UK routinely take over 30 days to make payment on invoices.

    Paul Murnaghan, director of BT’s Enterprise business in Northern Ireland, commetned on the support: "The past few months have been amongst the most challenging in living memory for SMEs. As they employ the majority of private sector workers here, their success is key to securing Northern Ireland’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Small businesses deserve the support of each and every one of us to help them thrive into the future."

    Ann McGregor MBE, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commented: "The Small Business Support Scheme is directly targeted at a number of the pressure points facing businesses now. Its assistance with relieving cash flow pressures for suppliers and improving digital skills across a wider business base is extremely important. I encourage small businesses from every sector across Northern Ireland to take advantage of the expertise and support on offer."

    Source: Written based on press release

     

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