IMPROVING the digital skills and connectivity of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) could add up to £62million to the local economy in Blackburn with Darwen, a new report from Intuit QuickBooks has revealed.

According to the Government’s Industrial Strategy Council, regional differences in UK productivity are at their highest level in over a century, with digital one of the key contributing factors. As a result, there is a growing awareness of the need to heal the digital divide.

And with 58 per cent of businesses failing in the first five years, embracing digital could be a significant factor for growth and resilience.

The Digital Opportunity for Small Business report, developed by Oxford Economics, explores the potential uplift that SMBs and local areas in the UK could gain from having access to greater digital connectivity and leveraging existing technology and tools.

Quantifying that figure as £62m for East Lancashire, the report puts it at £45m for Blackburn with Darwen.

Chris Evans, vice-president and UK manager at Intuit QuickBooks, said: “Entrepreneurship is everywhere and is driving prosperity in the UK, but it’s never been harder for small businesses to succeed. We commissioned this report because we truly believe that for small businesses to endure, they must have digital at their core.

“Implementing the right tools will allow small businesses in Blackburn with Darwen to seize the digital opportunity," he added.