This week, leading UK mobile operators are set to reintroduce roaming charges for customers travelling in the EU, the Home Office gives 3-month temporary protection to EU citizens making late applications to the EU Settlement Scheme, and the Department for International Trade continues to provide grants for SMEs under the Internationalisation Fund.
Mobile roaming charges changing in Europe
From January 2022, mobile operators EE and Vodafone will be reintroducing roaming charges for UK consumers travelling in the EU (excluding the Republic of Ireland). As part of the Brexit trade deal, UK operators are allowed to reinstate additional charges on calls, texts and data used in Europe, which had previously been scrapped in 2017.
EE announced it will be charging customers £2 a day to use its tariff allowances in 47 European destinations, or alternatively purchase 8-day, 15-day or 30-day packages (BBC News). Vodafone will be introducing similar charges from 6 January 2022, while other major providers such as Three and O2 say they have no plans to bring in charges, but have instead made changes to their fair use restrictions on data roaming.
The Brexit trade deal did not rule out fees for customers using their phones abroad, but instead encouraged both UK and EU operators to have “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming. The UK government also passed safeguarding legislation for customers, including a £45 limit per month on data charges, and a requirement for customers to be notified when they have reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance.
Temporary protection for more applicants to the Settlement Scheme
The Home Office announced that those who apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) after the 30 June 2021 deadline will have their rights protected while their application is determined. Over 6 million applications were made to the EUSS before the deadline, with more than 5.1 million granted.
While the official deadline has passed, those with reasonable grounds for missing the 30 June deadline are still able to apply to the EUSS, and will have their rights protected until their application and any appeal is decided. This also includes any joining family members, who will have temporary protection for 3 months after their arrival in the UK.
Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said, “Granting temporary protection to those who apply late to the scheme, and to joining family members, demonstrates our continued support to ensure everybody eligible is granted the status they deserve”.
International trade funding available for SMEs
The Department for International Trade (DIT) launched its new Internationalisation Fund in May, offering grants of up to £9,000 for businesses looking to grow through overseas trade. Exporting has emerged as a key growth opportunity in the recovery from the post-EU Exit economic landscape, especially for the manufacturing industry.
The grants, which can be between £1,000 and £9,000, are match-funded, with the receiving business needing to fund up to 50 per cent of the total cost of the project itself. The fund can be used to support areas including (but not exclusively limited to):
- Market research
- IP (intellectual property) advice
- Translation services
- International social media/SEO
- Trade fairs (where no TAP funding is available)
- Independent market visits
- Consultancy and other international commercial services
Funding is subject to availability and will be prioritised for businesses that can demonstrate high export potential. For more information and to get support with an application, contact an International Trade Advisor by emailing email@example.com.