UKFT, Sponsors Alliance and a number of industry associations across the UK have reacted strongly to news that UK Trade & Investment, the government organisation set up to encourage exports, is making an immediate cut to the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) which supports SME companies at key international trade fairs.
The cut would eradicate approximately 50% of the remainder of the TAP programme in the period January to March 2015, seriously affecting the UK’s exports and economic growth. In addition, a 100% cut to Key Event funding would prevent the industry from raising its profile at a number of shows. In particular, it is the lack of prior warning which does the most harm – within the fashion and textile industry alone, the cut would affect almost 200 eligible SME companies who may not now be supported with grants for key international trade shows which had been agreed with the UKTI over a year ago.
Most SME businesses regard TAP as fundamental to their export success and the single most beneficial Government policy for industry. The scheme is essential not only for the companies themselves but also for the wider UK economy, as the figures show that for every £1 the government invests in TAP, a minimum of £35 comes back to the country in taxable income. For the Fashion & Textiles Industry, the ratio is even higher at £40:£1.
Key industry figureheads have shown their support for the UKFT and Sponsors Association campaign including Olivia von Halle, who said: “Over the years, we have used the TAP scheme to great effect. Showing with grants in Paris and New York has helped us to win vital UK and export orders. Thanks to TAP, Olivia von Halle is now stocked in 100 stores in 20 countries, including Selfridges, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew, Beams and Harvey Nichols.”
UKFT is campaigning hard for this cut to be reversed immediately and for a more sensible approach to be brought in for the scheme to support exporters after April 2015, as well as the reinstatement grant element of UKTI’s “Gateway” and “Passport to Export” schemes which were cut earlier in the year. Working closely with the Sponsors Alliance, the UKFT has also written to the Prime Minister and senior politicians including the Chancellor, George Osborne and Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable along with the new CEO of UKTI to request an urgent meeting on the matter.