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Digitising Britain could bring billions to the economy

Here's the thing: boosting cities across the UK with better digital infrastructure and technology could mean as much as £1.5 billion extra to the country's budget by 2020.

At least, that's what it says in O2's new report on the matter, entitled Rebalancing Britain: Inspiring thriving Digital Communities.

The report looks at the current state of digital economies across the country, and gives suggestions how to improve and bring balance to the current North-South economic divide.

So for example, St Helens economy could get an additional £46.3 million – 10 per cent more than what's currently estimated for the period up to 2020. That money would mostly come from newly created jobs, better worker productivity and supply chain multiplier effects, all directly linked to the improvement in the town's digital infrastructure.

The biggest increases in additional jobs would be seen in retail trade (34 per cent), business support services (22 per cent) and professional services (7 per cent).

And that was just for St Helens' pilot. Replicating it in eight towns in the North of England could bring another £410 million to the country's economy by 2020.

Ben Dowd, O2’s business director commented, “This report is a stark reminder that digital plays a crucial role in delivering future economic growth and rebalancing the chronic North-South economic divide currently gripping our economy. Through our Digital Communities pilot we’ve seen first-hand the benefits that relatively simple connectivity, such as new wifi hotspots and smartphones, can bring to an entire town.“