UK government spends £30,000 on mystery trade mission -

UK Trade and Investment often organises jollies for important sectors of the UK to fly abroad and spread the good word - that the UK has some excellent start-ups that really should be given the attention that they deserve. Unfortunately it doesn't know who they are.

We got an email from our friends at Postcodeanywhere excitedly saying that they've been shipped off to give talks in the United States along with 19 -19 - other companies. We doubt they've been flown over economy but Postcodeanywhere's Jim reckons they've all been chucked in the cargo hold. 

TechEye called the UKTI to find out a little more. We really can't fault any of the press officers here, they were polite, prompt and courteous. However, no one seemed to have any idea who was being shipped off, when they were being shipped off or where they were going. We waited, and waited - the last we've heard is that they do now know who the companies are and they're just checking to see if they're happy to have their names out there.

But hold on - ain't UKTI government money i.e. public dosh? Transparency! Either way we suggest this isn't quite the case exactly as we were first told we'd have all the details in about 15 minutes. Doing a little bit of maths work we figured out that two days is 2,880 minutes. That's 2865 minutes late!

Of course promoting global trade is important, but remember we're in Ozzy's age of austerity - we'd like to know who's off on a jolly. According to Lastminute.com, air frights on the days these lot are going, economy, with return, are £1490.57. Multiplying that by 20 we get £29,800. Then there's hotels, food, drinks, the rest of it. Details are thin on the ground about what goes where.

*Update Sometimes we get a little excited. UKTI has got in touch with us after figuring out what it is up to. A spokesman said:

"I hope you don't mind me saying so but there are one or two inaccuracies in the story. We are taking 12 companies on the mission rather than the 19 quoted in your story. The £30,000 you quote for flights, accommodation and hospitality is completely wide of the mark. We have not paid for flights and accommodation.

"The companies have each paid £500 for a place on the mission. UK Trade & Investment has spent £15,000 in total organising this mission, most of this money has been spent on venues, logistics and transport hire."

Oops.