In a report published today, the Commons Business Innovation and Skills Committee says it has concerns over the Government's ability to deliver on its strategy to support UK exports: a key part of the Government’s strategy to support the UK's recovery from recession
The committee welcomes the direction of the new strategy, which has gone some way to address business concerns. It also contains some innovative policies and a clearer focus across Whitehall on trade promotion.
However, the committee was unimpressed with the pace of the Department's policy formation. In particular it was unimpressed with the delay in publishing the UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) strategy for business support and the time taken to appoint both a Trade Minister and Chief Executive of UKTI.
The report voices the committee's concerns about the Government's ability to deliver on the strategy given the reduction in funding available to the Department and its delivery organisations. It highlights the risk of reductions to the UKTI's budget, services and trade advisers. While it welcomes the Government's ambition to make UKTI a more entrepreneurial organisation, the committee remains unconvinced that it will be able to attract the right people from the private sector given these constraints.
The report concludes that it is early days for a new trade strategy, a new Trade Minister and a new Chief Executive of UKTI. Given the funding constraints faced by UKTI successful delivery of the strategy represents a significant challenge. Its success can only be measured by positive outcomes for business and we will judge the Government’s strategy in that light.
Adrian Bailey, Chair of the Committee said:
"The Government has recognised the importance of UK businesses, especially SMEs, to sustaining the economic recovery. The Department and UKTI play a key role in supporting them as they move into overseas markets. They have delivered a good strategy, but we are not convinced that they have matched this with sufficient resources.
We all know that Departments have significant reductions to their budgets and BIS is no exception. However, we are not convinced that cutting the budget for business support is the right approach. If UKTI fails in its role as the key government support for business then the economy as a whole will suffer. This cannot be allowed to happen and the Government will need to convince us that it can deliver with less"