Public funding for UK exporters nearly tripled to £12.3bn last year


Public funding for UK exporters nearly tripled to the highest level in three decades last year to help support business through the pandemic

  • EasyJet, British Airways and Rolls Royce were among those to receive help
  • About four-fifths of the 549 firms who received direct support were SMEs
  • UK Export Finance said its funding helped support up to 107,000 UK jobs 










The Government gave £12.3billion to help British companies export goods during the pandemic and the Brexit transition period last year, the largest amount in three decades.

Major employers such as EasyJet, British Airways and Rolls Royce were among the firms to receive backing from UK Export Finance (UKEF), which provided almost triple the amount it did the previous year.

About four-fifths of the 549 firms who received direct support from UKEF were small and medium-sized firms though, according to the public body, which offers finance and insurance to help businesses gain overseas contracts and get paid.

Going abroad: The Government gave £12.3billion to help British firms export goods last year

The public body said the funding helped businesses cope with the disruption created by the coronavirus crisis, which has resulted in governments imposing strict trade and travel restrictions on goods and people.

UKEF said its funding supported 107,000 jobs in the UK, including 76,000 in large businesses through the Export Development Guarantee, and export goods to 77 countries.

One beneficiary was Nissan UK, which had £480million of a £600million loan guaranteed by UKEF in April to assist it with the production of vehicles at its Sunderland factory, where most of the cars made there go on to be sold abroad.

This followed the carmaker falling to a £544million pre-tax loss in the 12 months to March 31, against a £133million profit the previous year, as car sales dwindled and it was forced to temporarily halt the production line.

It also provided £1.7billion to a monorail project in Cairo, Egypt, the agency’s largest-ever funding package for a civil infrastructure project that will use trains manufactured by Bombardier in Derbyshire.

Louis Taylor, chief executive of the UKEF, said: ‘Last year was one of profound challenges, but UKEF helped UK businesses weather the storm, with a record year in support of our exporters.

‘Covid-19’s economic fallout has been especially hard for small businesses, which is why we’ve launched new products and expanded existing ones to keep them trading.’

Support: After falling to a big loss, Nissan UK had £480million of a £600million loan guaranteed by UKEF to assist it with the production of vehicles at its Sunderland factory

Support: After falling to a big loss, Nissan UK had £480million of a £600million loan guaranteed by UKEF to assist it with the production of vehicles at its Sunderland factory

The agency plans to contribute more funding towards eco-friendly projects and already has £2billion invested in clean growth projects, including £500million in financing for three offshore wind projects in Taiwan.

The UK introduced a clean growth lending facility in 2020 to help companies transition away from fossil fuels and support projects involved in fields such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicles.

Today, Minister for Exports Graham Stuart has announced a new ‘Clean Energy team’ to underwrite green projects, which combined, he said, with the lending facility would ‘help the economy grow back stronger, fairer and greener.’

Green transition: The UK introduced a clean growth lending facility in 2020 to help firms and support projects involved in fields such as renewable energy

Green transition: The UK introduced a clean growth lending facility in 2020 to help firms and support projects involved in fields such as renewable energy

Exporters have complained that Brexit has made the process of sending goods overseas more complicated due to the higher costs and delays associated with extra bureaucracy.

Last Friday, the Food and Drink Federation released figures showing that total food and drink exports to the European Union plunged by £1.4billion on the same period in 2020 and were £2billion down on two years ago.

Dairy products saw the largest decline in exports to the bloc, falling by over 90 per cent. British cheese exports plummeted by two-thirds, while breakfast cereals, fish and savoury snacks also sold significantly less abroad.

Dominic Goudie, the head of international trade at FDF, called the £2billion fall a ‘disaster for our industry’ and’ a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer term due to new trade barriers with the EU.’





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