Lloyds Bank strives to boost digital skills for SMEs and charities

Lloyds Banking Group pushes ahead with government-led initiative to increase digital capability of UK SMEs and charities

Lloyds Banking Group has announced that it will push forward with the government-led initiative to increase the digital capability of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and charities across the UK.

The bank, which is already part of the Digital Inclusion Delivery Board, will oversee a project focused on improving digital skills in SMEs and charities, by working with government, the digital skills charity Go ON UK and the six other Digital Inclusion partners.

The project is part of a wider initiative to reduce the number of people in the UK with basic digital skills to 25% by 2016.

Lloyds recently published its UK Business Digital Index, which showed that 1.7 million organisations in the UK have a very low level of digital capability and over a third of all staff at SMEs and charities don’t have basic online skills.

The research also showed that only half of SMEs and charities have a website, and those that do have only basic internet functionality, with only one in five allowing payments or donations through their websites.

The Digital Inclusion Delivery Board

The Digital Inclusion Delivery Board was created following the launch of the government’s UK Digital Inclusion Charter in April 2014. It is made up of representatives from the voluntary, private, local and government sectors.

The seven members of the Digital Inclusion Board are:

  1. AgeUK
  2. BT
  3. Lloyds Banking Group
  4. Local Government Association
  5. Society of Information Technology Management - SOCITM
  6. Tinder Foundation
  7. Citizens’ Online

Almost a third stated that the internet is not relevant to their business or charity which, according to Lloyds, shows a lot of SMEs and charities have a "digital blind spot".

Miguel-Ángel Rodríguez-Sola, group director for digital, marketing and customer development at Lloyds Banking Group, said a big barrier is the perceived benefits of digital, and that is one area the group will be focusing on. 

"We can’t emphasis enough the benefits that the internet can bring for SMEs and charities – such as saving time, increasing revenue or reaching wider audiences. That’s why we are co-ordinating this work – so that businesses and charities can reap the rewards from better digital skills,” he said.

The project aims to identify the major gaps in support and provision for SMEs and charities, as well as identifying solutions by building on work and support carried out through local enterprise partnerships and mentoring programmes.

Eleri Pengelly, deputy director of Digital Inclusion and joint chair of the Digital Inclusion Delivery Board, said it wants to make Britain the most digitally able nation in the world to help boost the economy and strengthen communities. 

"A key part of this is enabling more small businesses and charities to get online, which is why this work, chaired by Lloyds Banking Group, will be crucial in identifying the gaps and targeting our resources,” said Pengelly.

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