Labour's Chuka Umunna slams government export schemes

Chuka Umunna Mr Umunna says ministers are letting down British businesses

Two major government export schemes have failed to help a single firm, the shadow business secretary has said.

Labour's Chuka Umunna said the £1.5bn Direct Lending Scheme, launched seven months ago, had not helped one firm.

And he also said the £5bn Export Refinancing Scheme, launched in July 2012, was not even operational.

A government spokesman said steps were announced in the Budget to make both programmes "more accessible to small businesses".

The spokesman said the changes would help firms to "realise their export potential".

'Compete'

Mr Umunna said the Direct Lending Scheme had only received 15 inquiries with just one firm subsequently putting in an application for support.

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

"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."

The criticism comes ahead of a week of export-related events being held by UK Trade and Investment to provide British firms with advice on doing business overseas.

Criteria changed

In his Budget last month Chancellor George Osborne announced changes to the Direct Lending Facility.

These include relaxing the eligibility criteria of the facility and reducing the interest rates involved, which the government hopes will broaden the reach of the scheme.

The Export Refinancing Facility is expected to launch soon, after business minister Michael Fallon told Parliament last month that the European Commission did not consider the scheme broke rules on state aid.

Both schemes will be administered by UK Export Finance, a government agency which offers insurance and bank guarantees to exporters.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    07:29: SUPERGROUP

    Former Co-op Group chief executive Euan Sutherland is back having been announced as chief executive of SuperGroup this morning with immediate effect. He was previously CEO of Kingfisher UK, which operates B&Q, Screwfix and TradePoint.

     
  2.  
    07:21: GERMAN GROWTH BBC Radio 4

    Germany has very low unemployment, Dr Stephanie Hare, senior analyst for western Europe at Oxford Analytica tells Today. "Making more jobs for Germany isn't the issue here," she says. "We need stimulus and investment in countries that are going to help boost the future of Germany's trading partners in the eurozone. So we can either increase demand in Germany, or Germany could be part of a wider European solution to increase stimulus in its eurozone trading partners." She points out Germany has benefitted from other countries investing and stimulating its economy once or twice in the past century.

     
  3.  
    07:11: EUROTUNNEL

    Eurostar results yesterday, Eurotunnel results today. Revenues for the third quarter of 2014 increased 7% to €343.9m (£271.5m).

     
  4.  
    06:57: UK BORROWING Radio 5 live

    "The main reason tax receipts aren't as high as you'd like is the increase in personal tax allowance," says Alan Clarke, UK and eurozone economist at Scotiabank on Wake Up to Money. He's talking about yesterday's disappointing figures. There are more people in work, though, which means less spending on benefits, he says. Low-paid jobs mean that doesn't help as much as you may think, points out presenter Mickey Clark.

     
  5.  
    06:47: GERMAN GROWTH BBC Radio 4

    Christian Schultz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank, tells the Today programme Germany needs to work on its infrastructure, but even if it started to work on inward investment now the effects would not be felt for several years. This as more political pressure builds on Germany to act to avert another eurozone crisis. But German inward investment doesn't solve the problem, he says. "How does Germany fixing some bridges make French and Italian entrepreneurs invest more?"

     
  6.  
    06:34: STORM POWER
    storm

    The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says. The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants. Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%. As BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin reports, for a 24-hour period yesterday, spinning blades produced more energy than splitting atoms.

     
  7.  
    06:24: CITY POWERS Radio 5 live

    On things like transport and education, local government can make better decisions, says Alexandra Jones, chief executive of the Centre for Cities, which does independent research and policy analysis on UK city economies on 5 live. "Whatever you're doing in a city, you have to balance the books, though, she says. Competitiveness on tax becomes a "race to the bottom" she adds.

     
  8.  
    06:13: CITY POWERS Radio 5 live

    "I think there's real momentum... this is the biggest opportunity in decades to transport the relationship with local government," says Mr Wakefield on 5 live. The debate for Scottish independence shows there are a lot of people interested in local powers, he adds.

     
  9.  
    06:04: CITY POWERS Radio 5 live

    Allowing UK cities to make their own decisions on tax and spending could boost economic growth by £79bn a year by 2030, a year-long study has concluded. "More people want local powers in Leeds," says Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council on Radio 5 live. He thinks councils can target some spending more efficiently.

     
  10.  
    06:01: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via email at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on twitter @BBCBusiness

     
  11.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning all. We have the latest minutes from the Bank of England's September Monetary Policy Committee meeting at 09:30; Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group publishes interim results before that and there are trading updates from GlaxoSmithKline, British American Tobacco and Everything Everywhere. We'll bring you it all as it happens.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.