The importance of BT Group to the UK has been highlighted in a new report, which shows that the carrier is responsible for generating £1 in every £75 produced in the UK economy.

Indeed, the independent report consultancy firm Hatch calculated that BT generated more than £24bn in gross value added during the last financial year.

It comes as the UK mobile and in particularly the telecom network has played a vital role to ensure that remote working and remote teaching can take place for many British households during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

BT contributions

The Hatch report estimates that approximately 300,000 full-time jobs in the UK are supported through BT’s direct employment, its spending with contractors and suppliers, and the spending of its staff.

Indeed, the report states that BT spent nearly £10.1 billion with suppliers based around the UK.

This includes the firms used to maintain its combustion powered 35,000 vehicles – with BT aiming to transition up to 28,000 electric vehicles by 2030.

BT Open Reach Rebrand. London. Picture Steve O’Connell 21-06-17

The report also pointed out that spending by people who receive a BT pension also supported an estimated 26,600 jobs and contributed nearly £2bn across the UK.

BT has 82,800 direct employees in the UK to help maintain its networks. This is equivalent to one in every 12 employees working in the IT and communications sectors.

The carrier is currently modernising its business, with it carrying out a massive consolidation of its office space in the UK, which is it billing as a ‘workplace improvement programme’.

This will see BT consolidate more than 300 office locations in the UK to just 30 locations, in places such as Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Ipswich (Adastral Park), London and Manchester being earmarked to be key locations for the carrier.

But this change has not come without a cost, and the Register this week reported that repayment project engineers (RPE) in the Openreach division have voted for industrial action over a new grading structure.

It seems that 170 engineers in the unit were balloted over what they saw as BT’s decision to put new staff on a management grade without correct consultation. Sources told the Register these revamped Ts&Cs equate to lower salaries and fewer holidays.

Coronavirus role

Despite this, senior management remain proud of the role the carrier has played during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m immensely proud of the contribution our colleagues make in supporting the UK economy,” said Jane Wood, BT Group director of nations and regions. “At an important time for our country, our spending on people, networks and suppliers, provides a vital economic boost for the UK. The wider impact of that spending helps to sustain communities and small businesses right across the UK.”

“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,” said Wood. “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 networks 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.”

“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,” added Tim Fanning, director at Hatch. “Its presence across the country generates significant further activity and investment, supporting many thousands of jobs.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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