BT offers £2,500 broadband bursaries in new small business scheme

The company introduces a slew of new measures aiming to boost connectivity, cashflow, and confidence

BT has announced the launch of a new support scheme which aims to help the 5.8 million small businesses in the UK to weather any potential economic fallout following the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.

With the Small Business Support Scheme, BT has introduced a slew of new measures which aim to help small businesses boost their connectivity, cashflow, and confidence.

As part of the plan, BT revealed that it would be subsidising the cost of ethernet connections by £2,500 per customer, as an extension of the government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

The telecom company has also introduced BT Halo for Business – a converged fibre broadband, mobile and digital phone line bundle for micro-businesses, which employ up to nine people and represent 90% of all businesses in the UK.

The plan also involves the launch of a new digital payments solution and, starting October, UK startups and entrepreneurs will be able apply for a bursary to benefit from free fibre broadband and mobile bundles. Details for both will be announced in the coming months.

In an effort to boost small businesses’ cashflow, BT said that it is committed to paying its 4,500 small business suppliers within 30 days of being invoiced, halving the 60-day terms stipulated by the government’s Prompt Payment Code. The company will also create a team dedicated to supporting customers who are struggling with bills as a result of the pandemic.

In order to build the confidence of small businesses, BT will support 1 million small business owners and their employees with digital skills programmes by 2025, upskilling them in security and social media. It also aims to provide a free online toolkit and webinar series specifically designed to support the mental and physical health for the people behind small businesses.

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Over the coming weeks, BT is to provide more details on new mentoring schemes for small businesses, which focus on aspects such as strategy, marketing, and sales, as well as helping them better promote their goods and services online.

Commenting on the announcements, chief executive of the BT Group, Philip Jansen, said that small businesses “employ the majority of private sector workers in the UK, so their success is key to securing the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic”.

“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 startup, micro-business or a larger firm,” he said.

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