Selling services overseas: Government provides further funds to get professionals exporting

Thu 25 Jan 2024
Posted by: Danielle Keen
Trade News
UK Trading Around World

The government yesterday (24 January) announced fresh funding to support UK professionals to export their services.

A total pot of £500,000 has been pledged to encourage industry regulators and professional bodies to get UK professional qualifications recognised overseas.

The support is intended to remove bureaucratic barriers to professionals, from architects and engineers to lawyers and accountants, selling their services internationally.

Opening ‘new doors’

Because a UK qualification won’t automatically entitle a professional to practice in another country, the funding removes a key barrier for professionals who would like to sell their services overseas – namely the added time and expense of becoming qualified in another country.

Minister for trade policy, Greg Hands, said the funding would “open new doors for UK-qualified professionals, allowing them and their firms to focus on winning contracts, exporting their expertise abroad and growing their businesses”.

Regulatory body funds

The funding will supply grants of up to £75,000 per applicant per year to support regulatory and professional bodies to set up recognition agreements that validate UK professional qualifications overseas.

Regulatory funding has been offered twice previously under the Recognition Arrangements Grant Programme – covering up to 80% of the eligible costs for an industry body to set up a recognition agreement.

Previous funding rounds facilitated agreements between the UK’s Financial Reporting Council and their New Zealand and Swiss counterparts for auditors, which enabled UK audit firms to sell services more easily to those markets.

Applications are open for proposals seeking funding for the 2024-2025 financial year and will close on 22 March.

Services value 

Services are becoming increasingly integral to the UK economy. In the year up to November 2023, services exports were worth £472bn to the UK economy – a 16% increase on the previous 12 months.

Despite currently being the world’s second-largest exporter of services, last year IOE&IT released a report that found a significant amount of untapped potential resides in potential service exports from UK regions beyond London and the South East.

A report by the Resolution Foundation released this week supports these findings, suggesting that major cities beyond these areas, notably Birmingham and Manchester, have significant potential to grow their services trade.

IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione emphasised the importance of the UK’s services sector to economic growth:

“There must be a sustained focus on levelling up the UK’s services exports, especially those in the underrepresented regions outside of London and the South East.

“International trade is a fundamental force for good and research shows that businesses that export are more productive, more innovative and see more growth.”