Export finance schemes 'failures'

Flagship export schemes for businesses announced by the Government two years ago have yet to help a single firm, Labour has claimed.

Chuka Umunna said the Government's flagship export schemes had completely failed to deliver
Chuka Umunna said the Government's flagship export schemes had completely failed to deliver

The Opposition said answers to Parliamentary questions revealed that the £5 billion Export Refinancing Scheme, launched in July 2012, was not even operational.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said the Government's £1.5 billion Direct Lending Scheme, launched seven months ago, has not helped a single firm either.

So far it has received only 15 inquiries and just one firm has actually put in an application for support, said Labour.

Mr Umunna said the revelations will cause embarrassment for ministers at the start of UK Trade and Investment's annual Exports Week.

He said: "Ministers promised an export-led recovery, but the truth is that they are badly letting down British business.

"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.

"We desperately need to get more businesses exporting to boost middle-income jobs, grow our way out of the cost-of-living crisis and so we can ensure Britain can compete.

"As we've seen with so many of the Tory-led governments' promises, they have completely failed to deliver."

A Government spokesperson said: "Steps were announced at budget to make both programmes more accessible to small businesses, helping them realise their export potential."