Last reviewed 8 April 2014
Although they were announced two years ago, the Government’s two flagship export schemes for businesses have yet to help a single firm according to evidence unearthed by Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna.
Answers to Parliamentary Questions put forward by the Opposition frontbencher have cast new light on the £5 billion Export Refinancing Scheme, which was launched in July 2012 as part of the Treasury’s UK Guarantees scheme, and on the £1.5 billion Direct Lending Scheme which was established seven months ago.
The first scheme, which was supposed to be up and running by the end of 2012, is not yet operational while the second has received only 15 enquiries and just one firm has actually put in an application for support.
According to Mr Umunna: "Both programmes were supposed to help more firms export, and follow the failure of the Government’s previous flagship programme designed for this purpose, the Export Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EEFG) scheme which was abandoned by Ministers after it emerged that it had only assisted five firms."
He pointed out that, last year, UK Export Finance (UKEF) spent less than a fifth of the £25 billion financial support made available to businesses despite the Government target of getting 100,000 businesses exporting by 2020.
The announcement will prove embarrassing as it appears at the beginning of UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI's) annual Exports Week.
"Ministers promised an export-led recovery, but the truth is that they are badly letting down British business," Mr Umunna concluded. "Scheme after scheme which were supposed to help more firms export have failed to have any impact whatsoever, and now we learn that two programmes which were announced to great fanfare two years ago haven’t helped a single firm."