News

February 23, 2021

First Phase of the Shared Rural Network to bring £187 million boost to rural businesses

rural countryside, shared rural network, 4G
  • Report from O2 shows reduction of partial not-spots during the first phase of the Shared Rural Network rollout could increase turnover for rural businesses by £187.7 million per annum
  • The rollout will also mean rural communities could contribute an added £58.9 million to UK GDP each year
  • Scottish businesses and areas of the hospitality sector are in line to enjoy the biggest gains, with a £78.8m and £79m boost to revenues

The first phase of the new Shared Rural Network could boost rural business turnover by £187.7 million, with the lion’s share of revenue gains going to businesses in rural Scotland and the struggling hospitality sector, according to a new report commissioned by O2.

O2 commissioned Development Economics to model the benefits this will bring to rural businesses and individuals, with the report finding that once the first phase of the rollout has been completed, rural businesses situated near new mobile mast sites could benefit from an annual increase in turnover of £187.7 million.

Access to the Shared Rural Network for individuals and businesses will also allow these rural communities to contribute an extra £58.9 million to the UK economy each year, at a time when the economy needs it most.

Scottish businesses and hard-hit hospitality sector to benefit most

When broken up into regions, the Development Economics report found that the largest share – around 28% – of the gains in business turnover and productivity are expected to occur in rural Scotland, valued at £79 million in additional business turnover and a £24.1 million added contribution to the UK economy.

This is followed by Northern Ireland, which will see 16% of the predicted net gains, South West England with around 15%, Wales with 14% and the North West of England with around 8% (see the full table in the Notes for Editors section).

The report also revealed that 42% of the projected increase in turnover will benefit those in the struggling hospitality sector, covering rural distribution, hotels and catering businesses, which are in line for a £78.8 million boost to revenues. This boost could mean the difference between staying open or closing for many pubs and hotels, making the Shared Rural Network a potential lifeline for this beleaguered sector.

The other sectors that account for the largest shares of the increase in turnover are expected to be transport and communications, with 17% of the predicted revenue increase, and professional, financial, property and business services, which will enjoy 10% of the increase.

Further information about the Shared Rural Netwok can be found at www.srn.org.uk

To read more about O2's report and statistics click here.

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