SME Committee Pushes for More Export Help

The Parliamentary Committee for Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SMEs) has asked government agencies to do more to help small businesses get help with exporting.

Publishing their new report, Roads to Success: SME ExportsRoads to Success: SME Exports, the SME Committee has found that just 21 SMEs received help from UK Export Finance (UKEF) in the period up to August last year and thinks that more could be done to promote exports.

The SME Committe want both UKEF and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to do more to promote the possibilities of exporting for small and medium-sized firms which they say have huge potential.

In the push to generate an export-led recovery the House of Lords Committee wants UKEF to be better promoted not just to the small businesses but also to the banks that act as conduits for the scheme.

Access to finance for businesses who wish to export is being impeded by a number of factors, according to the report, which recommends that government gets a better understanding of how institutions risk assess SMEs and that the small businesses themselves seek out finance beyond the high street.

Whilst the report acknowledges that the UKTI is effective with the companies already under its wing, for those SMEs outside awareness of UKTI is apparently very low.

Further recommendations of the report are that UKTI also starts to forge stronger links with the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in order to create a greater awareness of the assistance available to firms who wish to export.

There are 39 LEPs in England

Other organisations the SME Committee has identified as partners to promote growth and exports are business organisations suxh as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Lord Cope, the chairman of the House of Lords SME Committee, said:

“We are calling on UK Trade and Industry and UK Export Finance to blow their own trumpets and promote their services for SMEs. Overall we are optimistic about UK SME exporters. But small businesses need help to export. That help is there but not enough SMEs know where to find it.”

The focus on SMEs is important because of the growth of small businesses. Between 2000 and 2012, the business population grew from 3.5 million to 4.8 million SMEs. These SMEs contribute 48.8% of the UK economic turnover and employ 59.1% of the British workforce but are also continuing to increase in number.

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