Lord Digby Jones: Postal Strike Will Boost Online Economy

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Small businesses won’t let postal workers stop them. They will move online, a BT conference heard. 

The Postal strike and the recession will leave small businesses in a completely different situation, according to former government minister, Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” said Lord Digby Jones, at the start of the BT-sponsored Small Business Week, based around research into small business attitudes. “After this recesssion and the postal strike, there will be a different way of managing the last mile.”

Jones and other panelists predicted that online technologies would be boosted by the difficulties small businesses would have getting physical material around the country due to the growing discontent in the UK’s postal service, currently due to reach an outright strike on October 22 and 23.

“Small businesses don’t let anything stop them,” said Mick Hegarty, strategy director of BT Business. “If they suddenly find they can’t rely on the postal service, they will look at their options and make choices.” In particular, users would be able to send money electronically, use services such as BT’s eSignature, and shift to digital content delivery, he said.

Small businesses can also use online technologies to reduce transaction costs, and make their labour more productive through mobility – and also increase their revenue by finding new business, said Hegarty.

Conservative Shadow Minister Mark Prisk opened the event, at the BT Tower, with promises of tax breaks for small businesses – including a break form national insurance for the smallest companies. However, he left before he could address his colleague Jeremy Hunt’s promise to scrap the 50p a month broadband tax.

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Abolishing the broadband tax might be alright, Lord Jones told eWEEK Europe, “and abolishing National Insurance on the first ten employees in a small business is superb. But where are they going to find the money to pay for it? He should be dealing with the politically unpopular stuff like sorting out the back office that is responsible for delivering public services. If that’s where he is getting the money, then I am with him.”


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