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Trade hotline that cost taxpayers £270 per call scrapped

A source in the department added that it was “terminated and replaced with a better alternative under the current Secretary of State to protect taxpayers and support exporters”.

Callers to the hotline this week were asked to contact the Department for International Trade directly.

‘Obscene waste of taxpayers’ money’

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said the service was an “obscene waste of taxpayers’ money” and that “millions of pounds of public money has been thrown down the drain on a call centre that barely received a call”.

The idea was originally launched by Ms Truss in her final act as International Trade Secretary in September 2021.

Her successor, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said that “having a dedicated export support team at the end of a phone will ensure [businesses] can access the information they need, and get on with the job of selling their world-class products and services abroad”.

Data released to the Commons also showed that between April and September 2022, less than 40 per cent of the calls were dealt with by the company that had been contracted to answer the phone, with the rest discontinued or passed directly to DIT.

The peak of its usage was in March this year, when a third of all calls were made, as businesses requested advice on how to export products following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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