Workers attack ‘obscene’ waste of funds on underused export helpline | Exchange Policy

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Labor has accused the Government of an obscene waste of money, after it emerged that an export hotline set up to help businesses received fewer than 3,000 calls in its first five months in office working.

Call center firm Hinduja Global Solutions has been promised £120,000 a month to run the export helpdesk, hoping the 24 staff involved would handle 3,000 calls a week.

But details given to Labor in parliamentary responses show that between October and February the helpline took just 2,899 calls. This meant that the ‘agent utilization rate’ – the proportion of staff time spent on taking calls – was just 7% and the cost of handling each call was over £200.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the volume of calls to the hotline increased, with 1,946 calls taken in March, but 61% of them had to be referred to Commerce Department staff. international (DIT).

Launching the service last fall, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan called it a “fantastic new one-stop-shop service” for exporters, promising that “an export support team dedicated at the end of a phone ready to help ensure they can access the information they need and continue to sell their world-class products and services abroad”.

Published details of the contract suggest that during its first six months of operation – until March 31 – there was no provision for a reduction in payment if the workload was lighter than expected.

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Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: ‘At a time when Rishi Sunak is telling families across the country there is no extra money to help them with the crisis of the cost of life, it beggars belief that the government is paying out hundreds of pounds. taxpayers’ money for a little-used service.

She added: ‘This is yet another obscene waste of taxpayers’ money by this total mess of a government.

Ministers have been repeatedly accused of failing to ensure value for money, most strikingly over the £9billion canceled in England for unusable or overpriced PPE, and high levels of fraud detected in Covid support payments to businesses.

A DIT spokesperson said: ‘We want the UK to become an export driven economy and our bespoke export support service ensures businesses have the support they need to tap into the markets. fastest growing in the world and thrive in a truly global Britain. Our export promotion services generate approximately 3,800 new exporters each year, which equates to an additional £9 billion in export revenue over the next decade.

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