Metrics Monthly | March 2020 | UK Edition

In the news Improving digital skills and connectivity of SMEs could add up to £15 billion to the UK economy

A new report from Inuit Quickbooks - titled ‘The Digital Opportunity for Small Businesses’ - states that improving digital skills and connectivity could add up to £15.3bn to the UK economy. According to the report, two key areas include improving the ability to use digital tools, which could add £9.9bn (or 0.5% of the total UK GDP), and improv- ing digital infrastructure which could add £5.4bn. The report suggests that SMEs could gain a huge uplift from having better access to digital connec- tivity and utilising existing technology. This follows the news from the govern- ment’s Industrial Strategy Council that regional differences in UK productivity are at their highest level in a century, with digital factors contributing to this.

With SMEs forming the backbone of the UK economy (accounting for more than 90% of employment in 38 of the 173 regions), it is expected that SMEs would be capitalising on digital technology, however the report suggests that busi- nesses are not utilising the opportuni- ties available to them. Key factors that effect this include resource constraints and a lack of IT skills and knowledge. According to Business Money , the solu- tion is for top management to lead the way in their firm’s operations. Because of the large influence that entrepre- neurs and management have across their businesses, their attitude towards digital technology can effect the extent that digital tools are adopted.

The right attitude, at the right time The unprecedented challenge faced by the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, within the first two months of his taking the position, is one that will potentially define his legacy in the history books, and one that he has met head on.

On Friday came the huge announce- ment from the Chancellor that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will, among other ground-breaking interventions, pay 80% of salary for staff who are retained by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month . This is a hugely bold move to take, and one that has been welcomed by employers and employees alike across the UK. This, along with other measures , such as the next quarter of VAT pay- ments being deferred and unlimited 12-month, interest-free loans for busi- nesses are impressively bold efforts by the Chancellor and the government

to give businesses the boost of con- fidence needed to retain their current employees, rather than being forced to release them with the forecast of low to no profits in the near future. We at LendingMetrics applaud his determination to do his part to help keep this nation afloat through one of its most turbulent and far-reaching crises in decades. There is also more talk of the government re-addressing support for the self-employed, so no doubt there will be further develop- ments soon. This will be a new experience for us all, but we are confident of our company’s

and our nation’s abilities to pull togeth- er and press on through the most chal- lenging of times. Read the full statement by Rishi Sunak here .

Above: Rishi Sunak giving a press conference about the latest measures to be put in place

04 | Metrics Monthly

March 2020 | UK Edition

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