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BT to speed up fibre internet roll-out after tax deduction

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The boss of BT plans to “build like fury across the country” as he invests the money from a Government tax deduction in plugging homes into the fibre broadband network.

Philip Jansen told reporters that the company would create jobs as it upped its fibre targets by five million within the next five years.

Around 25 million homes will now be connected by 2026, up from 20 million earlier.

The investment was made possible, BT said, in part by the Government’s recent tax deduction, designed to unlock investment from big companies.

The so-called “super deduction” will allow BT to pay only “minimal” corporation tax in the UK in the next couple of years, said finance chief Simon Lowth.

It has paid between £200 million to £300 million in past years.

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However, he added that the investment will mean that BT likely makes higher profits in future, which the Government will tax.

“This is a good example of regulation, government policy, and the industry working hard to do the right thing for the country and the population at large,” Mr Jansen said.

He said around 7,000 jobs will be created.

The investment will also be unlocked by a recent review of the telecoms market by Ofcom (known as WFTMR).

It came as BT reported a large dip in its financial performance for the last year.

Between April 2020 and March 2021 – a year heavily overshadowed by Covid-19 – profit dipped by 23% to £1.8 billion.

This was largely because of falling revenue, which was down 7% to £21.3 billion thanks in part to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the business’s consumer and enterprise divisions.

Investment in fibre and a bonus for frontline staff also ate into profits, BT said.

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“BT comes out of this challenging year as a stronger business with an even greater sense of purpose,” Mr Jansen said.

“After a number of years of tough work, and as we look to build back better from the pandemic, we’re now pivoting to consistent and predictable growth.

“We are building a better BT for our customers, for the country, for our shareholders and for those who work for this great company – now and in the future.”

The business said it plans to bring back its dividend, which was suspended due to Covid, during this financial year. The payout is expected to reach 7.7p per share.

Following reports that BT was in talks over BT Sport, Mr Jansen confirmed that a sale of the business might be on the cards, but that it is also possible that there will be no change, or a partner could be brought in.

“This is not about exiting BT Sport at all,” he said, adding that BT Sport needs investment, and BT’s money is being focused on other areas, including fibre.

The company is talking to a “small number” of potential partners, which are “all very interesting”.

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