BT adds nearly £2 billion to South West economy and supports more than 17,000 jobs, according to independent report

BT Group, its spend with contractors and suppliers, and the spending power of its employees, are responsible for supporting more than 17,000 (17,700) jobs in the South West, according to an independent report published today. 

The Economic Impact of BT Group in the UK report, by consultancy firm Hatch, calculates that the communications and technology company generated more than £24 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy during the last financial year, including almost £2bn (£1,840 million) in the South West alone*. 

The report estimates that around 17,700 full-time jobs in the South West are supported by BT Group through direct and indirect effects. The firm also spent £634 million with suppliers based in the South West, including those in the retail, construction and telecommunications industries.

BT Group has broadband and mobile networks spanning from the Scilly Isles to Shetland, built and maintained by some of the 82,800 direct employees it has in the UK. In the South West, the firm directly employs 8,050 people, with a further 511 employed as contractors.

The company is currently modernising its business, including investing in the UK’s largest workplace consolidation and modernisation programme, as it moves from 300 locations to around 30 as part of its Better Workplace programme. 

BT Group announced last year that it plans to move into a new state of the art office in the centre of Bristol in early 2022. Bristol has been confirmed as one of BT’s key locations in the UK, with the new office acting as a hub for more than 2,000 colleagues in the city and wider region. It plans also to open a new HQ in London later in 2021.

Last week, BT unveiled plans to recruit 51 apprentices and graduates in Bristol for its September 2021 intake. Meanwhile, Openreach, the digital network business, part of BT Group, announced in December that it would create 200 new full time engineering roles across the South West this year.

Nick Speed, BT Group regional director for the South West, said: “I’m immensely proud of the contribution our colleagues make in supporting the South West economy. At an important time for our region, our spending on people, networks and suppliers, provides a vital economic boost. The wider impact of that spending helps to sustain communities and small businesses right across the West Country.

“In the past year, having good connectivity has become more important than ever as we’ve all had to work, learn, and spend more leisure time online. Despite these challenges, our dedicated and determined colleagues have ensured EE’s 5G network has been extended to cover 125 towns and cities, built out Openreach’s full-fibre network to reach 4.1 million premises and EE’s 4G network now reaches 85 per cent of the UK. I know these significant investments will help to underpin the country’s economic recovery post-Covid.”

Employees from across BT Group, which includes Openreach, EE and Plusnet, have played a key role in keeping the country connected during the pandemic. The company has provided critical support to the NHS, SMEs via its Small Business Support Scheme and school children by providing unlimited broadband and mobile data, free and mobile data, free BT Wi-Fi vouchers and zero rating access to two of the most popular online education sites.

BT’s Consumer contact centres now handle 100% of customer calls in the UK, including at EE’s contact centre in Plymouth. Since customer service for BT, EE and Plusnet customers was brought back to the UK and Ireland last year, more than 34 million calls have been handled.

Ben Rhodes, CBI Deputy Regional Director for the South West, said: “It’s great to see companies like BT continue to invest so significantly in the South West and its communities. The value and impact of that investment is felt in high quality local jobs, economic growth and across supply chains the length and breadth of the country.

“This investment in digital infrastructure is crucial if the harmful effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are to be overcome. The last twelve months, perhaps more than any other time, have shown us the value of true connectivity, not just for business and the economy, but for maintaining social connections and aiding mental health.”

Tim Fanning, Director at Hatch, said: “Our analysis underlines how vast BT Group’s contribution is to the UK economy as a whole as well as to individual communities in the nations and regions. Its presence across the country generates significant further activity and investment, supporting many thousands of jobs.”

Across the South West in 2019/20:

  • 8,350 BT Group employees live in the region (FTE)
  • 8,560 BT Group employees work in the region (FTE)
  • £321 million total income of BT Group employees working in the region
  • £634 million spend with suppliers based in the region
  • £1,840 million total GVA impact (including indirect and induced effects)
  • BT Group employed 1 in every 200 employees working in the private sector, and 1 in every 8 employees working in the IT and communications sectors
  • £1 in every £130 of GVA is generated directly by BT Group
  • BT Group supported 1 in every 100 employees working in the private sector and £1 in every £75 of GVA as a result of BT Group’s full economic impact