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

LLB Reporter

Source: Photoshot

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 RegionShare of rural businessesShare of additional GVA (lowest estimate)Share of additional GVA (highest estimate)
1South West18.4 per cent£2.2 billion  £4.9 billion
2Eastern14.3 per cent£1.7 billion  £3.8 billion
3South East13.6 per cent£1.6 billion  £3.6 billion
4East Midlands11.4 per cent£1.4 billion  £3.0 billion
5Scotland9.6 per cent£1.2 billion  £2.5 billion
6West Midlands7.5 per cent£900 million  £2.0 billion
7Wales7.1 per cent£900 million  £1.9 billion
8Northern Ireland5.7 per cent£700 million  £1.5 billion
9Yorkshire & Humberside4.8 per cent£600 million  £1.3 billion
10North East3.9 per cent£500 million  £1.0 billion
11North West3.7 per cent£400 million  £1.0 billion
UK Total100 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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