Government export schemes 'have not helped a single business'

Two major government export schemes have not helped a single business.

This is according to shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who claims that the flagship £1.5 billion Direct Lending scheme has received just one application.

Meanwhile Mr Umunna said that the Export Refinancing Scheme, worth a further £5 billion, was still not open despite being originally announced in 2012.

The Export Refinancing Scheme has repeatedly been the subject of negative press attention, with stories first appearing in 2013 regarding the government’s apparent failure to get it operational. In July of that year then business minister Michael Fallon confirmed to Parliament that “no businesses have yet received support through the facility.”

The scheme was intended to provide long-term loans to clients of British exporters in order to enable those exporters to break into new markets.

Meanwhile the Direct Lending scheme is supposed to offer loans of between £5 million and £50 million to overseas buyers to finance the purchase of capital goods or services from British exporters in cases where bank lending has not been forthcoming.

Mr Umunna 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.”