NEARLY half of all SMEs in the South West lack digital skills, potentially losing billions of pounds of growth, according to a new report by Lloyds Bank.

The Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index reveals that 48 per cent of SMEs lacked basic digital skills in the their business, while only 22 per cent are gaining any monetary benefit from trading online.

In addition, businesses who report using online channels to find new international markets is 22 per cent.

The report suggests that by embracing digital skills, such as cloud IT, online accounting software and digital training tools, UK businesses could generate an additional £85 billion in turnover.

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."

The survey asked 2,000 firms employing less than people in the South West.