Government pledges £500,000 to boost British services exports

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The government is committing £500,000 to help UK professionals such as architects, auditors and accountants export their services around the world 

  • Government committing £500,000 to help UK professionals such as architects, auditors and accountants export their services around the world 
  • Grants of up to £75,000 on offer for UK regulators to strike deals to get UK qualifications recognised overseas, which could help firms win international contracts  
  • Previous rounds helped secure recognition arrangements with Switzerland and New Zealand

More UK professionals will be able to provide their services around the world thanks to new government funding to help get UK qualifications recognised overseas. 

Grants of up to £75,000 will be awarded to UK regulators and professional bodies as part of the Recognition Arrangements Grant programme. The fund can help them strike deals with counterparts around the world to help make it easier, quicker and cheaper for UK professionals to have their qualifications recognised overseas. 

From engineers and architects to accountants and lawyers, the UK is world-renowned for its high-quality services companies. We are second biggest exporter of services in the world – behind only the US – and the UK’s services exports are currently at a record high. 

However, qualifying as an architect, accountant or lawyer in the UK doesn’t generally qualify you to practise abroad which means UK companies miss out on opportunities internationally. The Government is therefore pledging £500,000 to help facilitate agreements which can reduce the need for professionals to gain additional qualifications in foreign countries or go through potentially costly and burdensome bureaucracy. 

Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands said:

Obtaining professional qualifications in foreign countries can be expensive and slow for professionals like lawyers and accountants who want to export their world-class services overseas. 

Part of the answer is to secure mutual recognition agreements between the UK and other countries, to acknowledge each other’s professional qualifications. 

This new round of funding will help 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.

This third round of funding follows previous successful rounds which led to: 

  • Agreements between the UK’s Financial Reporting Council and their New Zealand and Swiss counterparts for auditors, allowing UK audit firms to sell their services more easily in those countries. 
  • Work towards arrangements in sectors like legal services, accountancy and architecture with a range of jurisdictions such as Morocco, Hong Kong, and India. 

The new funding has been welcomed by UK regulators and professional bodies. 

Executive Director of Supervision at the Financial Reporting Council Sarah Rapson said:

The Recognition Arrangements Grant Programme has been invaluable in supporting the FRC to successfully secure mutual recognition of audit qualifications with New Zealand and Switzerland with more agreements likely in 2024. This will boost the UK’s audit market and further strengthen the UK’s close financial ties with key overseas markets. The funding has specifically enabled the FRC to utilise independent technical expertise to provide confidence in our assessment process and ensure UK audit quality is robustly upheld.

Chair of the Architects Registration Board Alan Kershaw said:

The Architects Registration Board has recently entered into mutual recognition agreements with counterpart organisations in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and we are currently exploring options for further agreements with other countries.  

The Recognition Arrangements Grant Programme has helped us expand the speed and scale at which we can pursue new agreements with other countries, which will open up international opportunities while maintaining the high standards and safety that the public expect from architects here in the UK.

More global recognition agreements can help businesses and professionals access new markets, reduce barriers to trade, and make it easier for UK businesses to export their services worldwide. 

UK services exports were £472 billion in the year ending November 2023, up £65 billion (16%) in current prices from the previous year.  

The Recognition Arrangements Grant programme will run until 31 March 2025, with grants of up to £75,000 per financial year awarded to UK regulators and professional bodies.

Source: Department for Business and Trade and The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP

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