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BT rings up £43 million boost for Cumbria economy

Openreach engineer Russ Graves at one of the roadside cabinets
Openreach engineer Russ Graves at one of the roadside cabinets

[B]T has given a massive £43 million boost to the Cumbria economy in the past year, according to an independent study published today.

The report, by Regeneris Consulting, highlights the huge local impact of BT’s activities including its takeover of EE, which has reinforced the communications company’s position as one of the region’s leading employers.

It revealed BT supported around 27,100 jobs in the North West through direct employment, spending with contractors and suppliers and the spending of employees.

The report has been welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Damian Waters, CBI’s North West director said: “This latest research demonstrates the extent to which BT plays a key role in our local communities. There is not a businessperson or family in this region who – directly or indirectly – is not affected by BT’s activities as a supplier of essential services, such as superfast broadband, major employer, investor or purchaser.

“In a competitive world, in which trade and relationships increasingly transcend regional and national boundaries, rapid and effective communications are ever more vital.”

Nearly 9,360 people are directly employed by BT and its EE business in the North West – equivalent to one in ten employees working in the region’s IT and communications sector. In employment terms, BT and EE’s impact in the 2015-16 financial year was larger than the region’s publishing and broadcasting sector.

Around £801 million was spent with North West suppliers – including £2 million in Cumbria.

The overall economic impact of BT and EE activities is expressed as a “Gross Value Added” (GVA)** contribution. For the North West this combined GVA totalled £2 billion – equivalent to £1 in every £80 of the region’s total GVA.

In addition, £1 in every £5 of GVA in the IT and communications sector in the Cumbria area was generated directly by BT and EE.

‘The Economic Impact of BT and EE in the UK’ outlines the combined economic contribution of the two companies across the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the financial year 2015-16.

Tim Fanning, associate director of Manchester-based Regeneris Consulting, said: “Our latest analysis has shown that, together, BT and EE contributed around £1 in every £70 of economic output in the UK in 2015/16. This is clearly a very substantial combined economic footprint. Moreover, this contribution is spread throughout communities up and down the country.”

Mike Blackburn, BT’s regional director for the North West, said: “Few organisations have a more positive and direct impact on the local economy and the county’s communities than BT.

“The acquisition of EE means we can invest even further, enabling people living and working in Cumbria to get access to the best communications – fixed line, mobile and broadband services – now and in the future.

“As well as providing the means for families, homeworkers, companies and other organisations to communicate and do business in new and exciting ways, BT is helping to support other firms and suppliers in the county with the company’s procurement and overall expenditure and the spending of its employees.”

The report highlights that BT, including EE, in the North West was responsible for the employment of around 9,360 people and contractors in 2015-16 – with a total income of around £289 million, and provides work for a further 17,700 people through spending with businesses that supply equipment and services, as well as through the spending of its staff. Around 790 employees live or work in Cumbria.

Openreach – BT’s local network business – which provides services for hundreds of communications companies and their customers, recently announced it had completed the recruitment of around 106 extra engineers in the North West to help install new lines and clear faults more quickly.

The new recruits are also working on rolling out fibre broadband to more households and businesses beyond the more than three million premises in the region, which already have access to the high-speed technology.

BT’s investment of more than £3 billion in fibre broadband across the UK includes the company working in partnership with the Government, local authorities and other bodies to help make the technology even more widely available across the region, especially in rural areas.

In the North West, BT is the major private sector partner in fibre broadband partnerships in Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria.

Earlier this year, BT announced Openreach and EE would be investing around £6 billion more over the next three years in the first phase of a plan to extend superfast broadband and 4G coverage beyond 95 per cent of the country by 2020.

The company is also aiming to make ultrafast broadband available to up to 12 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2020 using G.fast and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies.

UK-wide, BT and EE’s total GVA contribution in 2015/16 is assessed at £23.1 billion. The company supports 259,000 jobs directly and indirectly. BT and EE’s full economic impact is equivalent to £1 in every £70 of GVA in the UK economy and one in every 95 UK employees.

The full report is available at: www.bt.com/reports

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