A training and support scheme to help Lancashire businesses make the most of superfast broadband has given a vital boost to the Lancashire economy, according to the latest independent research.
A survey of hundreds of businesses, which took specialist digital courses run by the Superfast Lancashire Business Support Programme, showed well over half (61 per cent) reporting an increase in online sales and nearly half (46 per cent) expecting to create jobs in the next year.
The findings come after the Government announced that its nationwide rollout of superfast broadband had now reached more than three million homes and businesses in the UK.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Access to superfast speeds has never been more important and vital to the UK economy.
“This is something clearly demonstrated by the success of the Lancashire Business Support programme. Superfast Lancashire is making tremendous progress – more than 133,000 local homes and businesses have joined the three million other premises our rollout has reached to date.”
Researchers from Edge Hill University Business School quizzed more than half of the 700 Lancashire firms involved in the programme, funded jointly by BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and overseen by Superfast Lancashire, a partnership of BT, Lancashire County Council.
The survey of 350 businesses also found that: 55 per cent of businesses involved in the programme made sales to new customers in the region, 37 per cent made sales to new customers across the UK, 64 per cent strengthened relations with existing customers, 30 per cent saw an increase in turnover and 27 per cent saw an increase in revenue
Tony Morgan, BT’s client director in Lancashire, said: “It was great to see the evolution and development of these 700 businesses as they realised the transformational power they could harness once they saw that faster internet access was a giving them a business advantage.”
County Coun Sean Serridge, champion for digital inclusion at Lancashire County Council, said: “One of the key reasons for investing in high-speed broadband for Lancashire was always the boost in competitiveness that it would provide for the county’s businesses. This research vindicates that.”