Lack of investment support puts BT’s world leading position at risk

6 November 2023

New analysis from Prospect, a leading union representing workers across the IT and Telecoms industries, including thousands of managers in BT, has highlighted BT’s precarious position as one of the UK’s business crown jewels. A tax environment that focuses on short-termism and investor returns, coupled with a fall in worker morale and government failure to follow through on manifesto infrastructure commitments, has left the company in a vulnerable position.

The research considers the value BT adds to the UK economy, and its contribution in terms of R&D spending – with BT the second highest tech sector investor in the country. The report also demonstrates the importance of broadband infrastructure to UK plc and BT’s role in delivering it.

Repeated restructurings, a fall in morale, and a lack of investment in the workforce mean that BT is seeing increasingly high employment churn, struggling to recruit and retain the skills it requires.

Prospect has identified a number of challenges at company, investor, regulator and government level that need to be addressed if BT is to continue to deliver for the UK economy:

  • Invest properly and consistently in the workforce – without a clear commitment to skills and appropriate pay, recruitment and retention problems will worsen
  • Engage with unions to find the best way forward for the workforce and company
  • Government, Ofcom, and BT’s investors need to ensure it is in a position to continue investing in the infrastructure, innovation, and workforce skills
  • There should be an increased focus on investment and long-term gains rather than short-term investor profits

Read the report.

Prospect deputy general secretary Philippa Childs said:

“BT is a key driver of the UK economy but short-sighted thinking on the part of government, and at times the company, has left a number of problems that need to be addressed.

“The thing we urgently need to secure BT’s economic role for the future is consistency –consistency in investment, pay, and in government policy.

“The recent failure to ensure consistency is epitomised by the government rowing back on its commitment to deliver Gigabyte capable broadband to every household and business in the UK by 2025. This creates uncertainty and hinders private sector investment.

“BT can retain its place at the forefront of the UK economy but only if it listens and adapts, and if stakeholders do the same. Prospect stands ready to help achieve this.

Information Technology & Telecoms

Prospect represents more than 16,000 people working in Information Technology and Telecoms – one of the UK’s fastest moving industries.