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More than a million small businesses went online in Britain last year smashing the Government's own target for SMEs joining the dotcom revolution.

The figures were published today by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as part of its International Benchmarking Study. According to the DTI 1.7 million SMEs are now online.

The DTI also announced that 81 per cent of UK businesses are now online compared with 63 per cent last year. Nine out of ten of the UK's workforce work in businesses connected to the Internet and 27 per cent of UK companies are trading online, of which 450,000 are SMEs.

E-Minister Patricia Hewitt, said: "This is good news. Businesses are responding to the challenges of the information revolution and seizing the opportunities it presents. However, there is still more to be done.

"We must continue to work towards our target of getting one million SMEs trading on-line by 2002. The challenge now is not just getting connected but succeeding online using the new ways of working that e-commerce and new e-businesses practices bring.

Rene Schuster, Managing Director, UK & Ireland: "This country desperately needs small businesses to get on-line and get competitive, but SME's have been slow in doing this.

"I really hope that this announcement today signals a really aggressive push from Tony Blair to broaden and deepen the use of the Internet by our small businessmen," said Schuster.

Today's announcement is all part of UK Online, a partnership between Government, industry, the
voluntary sector, trade unions and consumer groups aimed at getting people, business and Government online. ®

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