The proposal will be part of a swathe of measures designed to show that Britain is ready for business after leaving the EU in January. Speaking exclusively to the Daily Express ahead of his first Budget, the Chancellor said: “This decade will provide even more opportunities for British businesses to export and trade with new partners across the world. The Government will support business to seize these opportunities and thrive on the world stage.
“This package – which is the highest level of export lending the Government has ever made available – will provide support to industries and regions across the country.”
Mr Sunak’s £5billion package of loans, designed to bolster the global standing of British firms, will be made available through UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Government’s export credit agency.
Over the last five years, the body has provided £14billion of support for exports and international trade.
The Budget boost will hike UKEF’S lending capacity from £3billion to £8billion, the biggest amount the Government has ever offered.
Mr Sunak believes the loan offer will encourage investment in UK firms to help the Government’s effort to spread prosperity and opportunity across the country with more jobs and higher wages.
From the £5billion fund, around £2billion will be offered for exports that encourage green growth while a further £1billion will be earmarked to help the defence industry.
Treasury officials say the approach is designed to encourage investment in sectors of the economy that can help to make the country both richer and safer.
Foreign investors hoping to start a business in the UK are also expected to have their visa applications supported by the Department for International Trade.
British exports were worth £689billion last year, up by 5% from the previous 12 months. Around 253,900 UK firms exported their products overseas last year, according to official figures published by the Department for International Trade.
Exports of goods totalled £372billion during 2019. The country’s top exported goods include cars, mechanical generators, medicines and other pharmaceutical products, crude and refined oil, precious metals, scientific instruments, works of art and non-ferrous metals.
Mr Sunak’s boost for exporters will be a key announcement in a Budget focused on “levelling up” the country as well as short-term measures to help business and the NHS cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Chancellor is expected to loosen his spending rules to give more flexibility to tackle the epidemic and support the economy. He will argue that historically low interest rates justify the move away from targets for reducing debt set by his predecessor Sajid Javid.
His key themes in the Budget will be delivering the Tory manifesto promises, providing security for the economy and laying the foundations for growth with a massive investment in the transport network and other major infrastructure projects.
Key measures are expected to include a £1billion deal with the mobile phone industry to improve patchy network coverage and a £5billion roll out of the next generation of broadband for rural areas.
Treasury rules will also be re-written to allow spending on infrastructure projects outside of London that would have previously been ruled uneconomic.
Mr Sunak is expected to announce a tax cut through a rise in the threshold for National Insurance contributions.
He is also understood to be poised to cancel a planned cut in corporation tax from 19 percent to 17 percent to save the Treasury around £6billion a year.
Tory MPs are braced for the Chancellor to end the freeze in fuel duty that has been in force since 2010.
Former Tory chancellor George Osborne yesterday said protecting the economy from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak should be Mr Sunak’s biggest Budget priority.
“If I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, I would make this a Budget for the coronavirus, I would do everything I could to vaccinate the economy against what is going to happen,” said Mr Osborne, who is now editor of the Evening Standard newspaper.
“If we can’t vaccinate people against what is going to happen, I would provide the cash for businesses and individuals that don’t have it at the moment because of the impact of the virus, and try and provide that immunity to the economy going forward,” he said.
Published at Mon, 09 Mar 2020 22:33:00 +0000