Added on: 31st January, 2019 by O1
Shoppers on Orpington High Street on the 30 November will have seen a rather unusual bus make an unexpected stop outside of the Walnuts centre. Google had come to town with their Digital Garage, hosted in a white double decker Routemaster bus.
The Digital Garage provided lessons for local businesses and residents in digital skills, including online safety, social media strategies and building a digital marketing plan.
It was great to visit the bus and sit in on one of the sessions. The instructors were extremely patient and responsive to a wide range of questions. One session that stood out was regarding online safety, which is particularly important for both businesses and consumers. As more people look to buy and sell online, it is important we all understand the importance of strong, secret and secure passwords among other preventative safety measures.
Orpington 1st partnered with Google to organise the visit to highlight the importance of digital skills for small businesses. In an age where online retailers are becoming far more common, it is important that small businesses can diversify and take on these new competitors. This involves being able to facilitate online sales and maintaining a social media presence.
I know that the Government is keen to ensure a more level playing field between online and bricks and mortar businesses. At the last budget the Chancellor announced a Digital Services Tax, a balanced measure to ensure that online businesses are taxed fairly to reflect the value they derive from UK users.
This does not only include online retailers but also businesses which gain revenue through the participation of UK users, such as search engines and social media platforms. While the Government hopes that this can be addressed with a more global approach towards the taxation of online businesses, the Digital Services Tax is an important step forward.
Even with a more level playing field, it is essential that businesses remain aware of the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in a changing, more digital world. It is for this reason that I am so pleased to see local businesses and residents embracing opportunities such as the Google Digital Garage to help develop their digital skills.
- Jo Johnson, MP