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What does the UK Export Finance 5-year plan mean for businesses like mine?

Updated: May 3

On 30th April, the UK Export Finance (UKEF) released their strategic 5-year plan outlining how they plan to support businesses of all sizes by connecting them with finance to bolster their exporting ambitions.  We’ve reviewed their plan to see what the UKEF pledges mean for SMEs across the UK.   

Who are UK Export Finance? 

For businesses who aren’t aware of the organisation, UK Export Finance is the UK’s export credit agency, aligned both operationally and strategically with the Department for Business and Trade.  They can support businesses in all sectors and regardless of their size. 

In 2022-2023, they provided £6.5 billion of financial support to UK exporters. UKEF’s guarantees can help businesses to access working capital.  

How do they plan to achieve these aims? 

In their plan, released earlier this week, the agency sets out ambitious aims for the term, including helping British business win £12.5bn worth of export contracts and supporting 1,000 SMEs before 2029. 

UKEF want to make it easier for SMEs to access their range of support in the first place. They envisage enhanced digital and automated services with faster response times as key means to achieve this.  

Once SMEs are in the UKEF network, under the new plan, they should be able to access a specialist offering specifically for smaller SMEs that have previously or might otherwise struggle to access finance.  

To this end, the agency plan to onboard alternative finance providers who specialise in SME finance, enabling smaller businesses to access private market finance often inaccessible to them.  

Tees Global welcomes UKEF’s commitment to supporting UK SME businesses on their export journey. International Trade Director, Ben Braford said the following: 

"SMEs are the cornerstone of the UK economy. Making up the majority of all UK businesses, they drive our economy, providing jobs and accounting for almost half of all turnover in the private sector. We see daily how finance can be a barrier to smaller businesses seeking to export innovative goods and services. We look forward to seeing how UKEF can help break down this barrier for our SME community." 

UKEF also committed to ensuring access to export finance and related support was more inclusive generally. Geographically, they seek to ensure 80% of their support is directed to businesses and individuals outside London. They also aim to reach business owners from underserved and underrepresented social categories, including women and individuals of minority ethnic grounds.   

We look forward to seeing how these aims and objectives translate into products and services for a diverse range of British businesses aiming to fulfil their export potential. In the meantime, businesses can find the full range of finance products and services available from UKEF here. 

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