The government has launched a £20 million grant fund to help support small and medium sized businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin and VAT rules when trading with the EU.
SMEs who trade only with the EU, and are therefore facing importing and exporting processes for the first time, are being encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 for practical support. This could include training and professional advice to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU.
The announcement of the ‘SME Brexit Support Fund’ follows extensive engagement with individual companies, industry groups and trade associations to find solutions to issues that have plagued businesses since January.
The support fund will prepare businesses for new import controls coming into force from April and July, as part of a three-stage process to allow traders and hauliers time to adjust to new processes. The staged process means businesses do not need to complete new import declarations for up to six months from the point of import until July, unless they are moving controlled goods.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, commented:
“This new targeted funding will see small businesses get more of the practical support they need to adjust to the new processes and prepare for further changes as we implement our own import controls in April and July.”
Mike Cherry, National Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said the new fund would make a “significant difference” to small businesses:
“We have been asking [government] for proper financial assistance of this scale, so that a cash-strapped small business can afford to buy-in expertise, training and practical support. The new fund will make a significant difference, and we are pleased that Ministers have really engaged with us on this.”
The funding will be administered through the existing Customs Grant Scheme administered by pwc and will open for applications in March.
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