Watch the webinar
- Tony Danker, Director-General, CBI
- Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, BT Group
- James Harding, Co-Founder and Editor, Tortoise Media (Chair)
- Big news on the additional lockdown and focused on economic effects. It’s essential to put health first, and it will be a particularly difficult time with schools closed, but we have been here before and we are used to this
- But the economic hit is real to businesses: footfall and demand will fall again. We have asked the Chancellor and government to look at three things in particular on economic support:
- We cannot wait until the budget in March to deal with the cliff-edge in April. Business decisions will be taking place in next few weeks. We need to tackle cash-flow – taxes, VAT, business rates
- Focus on supply chains – hospitality and aviation in particular
- Underwrite support for the duration: extend furlough for another quarter, VAT and business rate cliff-edge at the end of April.
- Tony met Dido Harding on Friday who reiterated their business strategy – they’re focused on: continuous improvement in Test and Trace; community testing for those who are asymptomatic across the country with prioritisation for those who physically have to go into work; financial support for those who have to self-isolate and are working with the treasury; planning for an end to lockdown; using data to inform decisions about tiering when the lockdown eases
- On technology:
- Businesses are realising the need to invest in technology enablement
- We need to unlock business investment to rebuild the economy after the pandemic and over the next decade
- We also need to think about skills – these go hand in hand with effective technology adoption.
- This third lockdown in England brings with it a lot of fatigue within BT but this will be the case across lots of businesses. The restrictions are the same, but people are tired. Everyone at BT has done a fantastic job over the past year
- BT Group have addressed this by encouraging staff to ‘put themselves first’, ‘look after themselves’ and families
- 30m customers rely on BT – mobile and home usage has changed dramatically – roughly using double the amount of data since the first lockdown. BT have moved all customer care back to UK base and the metrics on customer services have gone up. This capacity will be vital for future infrastructure as we go further digital
- For business customers – BT are helping businesses work securely from home by putting up VPNs and other secure collaborative tools to enable events like court cases to go ahead remotely
- On SMEs – they’ve acquired one million as customers directly and others via Open Reach. They have seen a large spike in online ecommerce growth for these customers, including food delivery
- BT have also given people who need assistance – including vulnerable customers unlimited data on broadband connect, and healthcare workers now receive unlimited data on EE
- Last year has changed the thinking on equality and connectivity – social, economic, educational divide is widening in the UK – connectivity and communication is at the heart of tackling this
- BT want to build in rural areas but circumstances are not right at the moment
- They launched their Small Business Support Scheme last year, and £3m to help people access digital skills, including mentoring
- Philip also outlined BT’s Ambition 2030 – which commits to modernising BT and its digital infrastructure – amounting to £20bn in the next 4-5 years.