Home Business NewsBusiness Greater digital adoption in rural areas could add £12 to 26bn a year to the UK economy

Greater digital adoption in rural areas could add £12 to 26bn a year to the UK economy

12th Mar 18 9:19 am

New research has found 

Unlocking the digital potential of rural areas across the UK could add £12 to 26.4bn annually in Gross Value Added (GVA) – equivalent to 4 to 8.8 per cent – to the rural economy and at least £15bn to rural business turnover each year, according to a new report commissioned by Amazon and published today by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

“Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen opportunities for rural entrepreneurs transformed through e-commerce, better delivery services and growing access to fast broadband. But as today’s report shows, there’s much further to go before anyone can say the rural-urban divide has closed,”said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon“Embracing digital technology not only benefits the economy; it also allows rural communities to combine great quality of life with access to global opportunities. We are working to play our part in helping achieve the report’s ambitions through programmes such as Amazon Academy events and webinars, where last year we helped hundreds of rural businesses learn how to go digital.”

The report found that the South West, Eastern and South East regions, which have the largest share of rural businesses in the country, are set to benefit the most from greater digital adoption. 

  UK Region Share of rural businesses Share of additional GVA (lowest estimate) Share of additional GVA (highest estimate)
1 South West 18.4 per cent £2.2 billion   £4.9 billion
2 Eastern 14.3 per cent £1.7 billion   £3.8 billion
3 South East 13.6 per cent £1.6 billion   £3.6 billion
4 East Midlands 11.4 per cent £1.4 billion   £3.0 billion
5 Scotland 9.6 per cent £1.2 billion   £2.5 billion
6 West Midlands 7.5 per cent £900 million   £2.0 billion
7 Wales 7.1 per cent £900 million   £1.9 billion
8 Northern Ireland 5.7 per cent £700 million   £1.5 billion
9 Yorkshire & Humberside 4.8 per cent £600 million   £1.3 billion
10 North East 3.9 per cent £500 million   £1.0 billion
11 North West 3.7 per cent £400 million   £1.0 billion
UK Total 100 per cent £12.0 billion £26.4 billion
Footnote: GVA figures add to very slightly over £12.0 billion and £26.4 billion due to rounding.

If digital constraints are removed and the digital potential is realised in rural areas, an estimated £15bn or more could also be generated in additional business turnover. Microbusinesses (0-9 employees) in rural areas would see the greatest benefit, generating an additional £9.4bn in annual business turnover; followed by £4.6bn for small businesses (10-49 employees), £700m for medium-sized businesses (50-249 employees) and £200m for large businesses (over 250 employees). 

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