Tory Trade Secretary Liam Fox blew more than £100,000 on a podcast ‘vanity project’ listened to by just 8,398 people.
The online radio series has been branded a “complete waste of money” which should have been spent on public services.
‘Local to Global’, part of the Government’s ‘Exporting is Great’ campaign, was recorded a bid to encourage British firms to export their wares.
It’s a series of interviews by former Apprentice co-host Nick Hewer, speaking to British entrepreneurs to discover the “personal stories and memorable moments” that inspired them to start exporting.
But the government has revealed there have been just 8,398 downloads or listens in total, across the 6 episodes of the podcast, plus a 1 minute preview episode.
The £107,000 cost of the producing and promoting the podcast means each listener cost the taxpayer £12.70.
That could have paid for a week’s worth of free school meals for a secondary school child.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran said: “This vanity project is a complete waste of money.
“A bit Like Liam Fox’s trade deals the government has quite simply poured money down the drain. Wherever you look the Conservatives have made a terrible mess out Brexit , this is the cherry on the cake
“Rather than wasting its time on poorly executed propaganda projects the Government should be spending money on our struggling public services.”
In response to a parliamentary question, Trade Minister Graham Stuart admitted: “As of 10am on the 22nd of February there have been a total of 8,398 downloads/listens of the ‘Local to Global’ podcast.”
Among those interviewed on the podcast were representatives from clean technology firm Pavagen, sunglasses maker SunGod and SureChill, a firm that invented a cooling system that makes it safer to export vaccines.
The total media budget for the Exporting is Great campaign, which launched in 2015 by UK Trade and Investment, has been reported at around £5 million.
A previous campaign, “Creativity is Great”, paid for by the department saw a giant billboard placed on top of the Grand Hotel in Cannes during the 2015 Cannes Lions festival.
The billboard featured a large, 3D lion
A Department for International Trade spokesman said: “The Exporting is GREAT campaign aims to inspire UK companies to start exporting or to grow their exports. DIT estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export, but don’t, while demand for British expertise and goods is only growing.
“Podcasts are an excellent way to engage with current and potential exporters by telling the stories of those who have experience to share. The podcast reached 6th in the UK iTunes business charts, demonstrating real interest amongst business audiences.
“In 2017, more than 100,000 businesses took steps towards exporting as a result of the campaign, part of the government’s commitment to promote a culture of exporting – a key pillar of the Export Strategy which aims to rise exports as a proportion of GDP from 30 to 35 percent.”