According to new figures, nearly half of SMEs in the south west lack basic digital skills that could drive growth.

The latest Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index says that by embracing digital skills, UK businesses could generate an additional £85 billion in turnover.

Yet only 22% of south west businesses are gaining a transactional benefit from trading online in the UK. This figure falls further when it comes to targeting international markets, and just 7% of south west businesses use online channels to export.

The report also found that only 8% of south west businesses use digital channels to search and discover growth opportunities for their business, while 35% have no interest in developing their cyber security capability.

The report’s authors say for those businesses embracing advanced technologies including cloud IT, online accounting software and digital training tools, there is the opportunity to generate more than £100k in extra annual turnover, compared to those who have none.

Stephen Noakes, Lloyds Banking Group’s ambassador for the south west, said: “The south west is home to more than 71,000 enterprises and is the base for some of the country’s leading names in digital, technology and manufacturing.

“As the world becomes more connected, it’s important for businesses and charities to have a strong online presence and the digital capabilities to attract new business or supporters, both in the UK and overseas.

“With this in mind, it’s disappointing to see that just 22% and 7% respectively of SME organisations are using their digital channels to do this.”