The UK Government has launched a £20m SMEs Brexit Support Fund help small and medium size businesses adjust to new customs procedures, rules of origin and VAT rules when trading with the EU.
SMEs, who only trade with the EU and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes, will be encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 for each trader to pay for practical support including training and professional advice to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU.
The announcement follows extensive engagement with individual businesses, leading business organisations and trade associations from across all parts of the UK, including through the Brexit Business Taskforce.
To provide SMEs with additional support, the fund will be administered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme and will open for applications in March 2021.
It has been set up to support businesses prepare for the new import controls coming into force from April and July, as set out in the Border Operating Model.
In addition to this new support, the UK Government is:
- Meeting businesses from specific sectors across all parts of the UK weekly through the Brexit Business Taskforce chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove. The latest meeting focussed specifically on businesses in Wales;
- Establishing the Seafood Exports Working Group, meeting twice a week to troubleshoot issues raised by the industry; and a newly established Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force;
- Offering support to businesses moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland through its Trader Support Service;
- Providing numerous helplines which businesses can contact if they need further information;
- This includes managing dedicated HMRC exporting telephone and online helplines; The number is 0300 322 9434 and businesses can also speak to an adviser online at www.tax.service.gov.uk;
- Running regular webinars with policy specialists;
- Providing the Brexit Checker Tool on GOV.UK which gives businesses a personalised list of actions that they need to take;
- Offering face-to-face support for exporters in delivered via a network of around 300 International Trade Advisers (ITAs);
- Leading a specific taskforce working with businesses across Northern Ireland and Great Britain on issues related to the Northern Ireland Protocol; and
- Operating a range of other support schemes including a guarantee scheme aimed at SMEs which means the government can provide an 80% guarantee on financial support from lenders to help with general exporting costs, up to the value of £25 million.
For more information about the Government’s Customs Grant Scheme, click here.
Partial source Gov.UK.