The Chamber network has welcomed the Government’s announcement of a new £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to help 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 will be encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support including training and professional advice to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU.
The fund will be administered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme and will open for applications next month and 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.
Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: “This is a welcome first step in dealing with some of the major issues that small businesses trading with the EU are facing. With their finances already under a significant squeeze firms, particularly those which export, areinevitably encountering difficulties in adapting to the complexities of the new arrangements.
“It is now crucial that the grants provide sufficient funds to make a real difference and the Government should stand ready to increase their size if needed. We will continue working closely with Government to make sure this scheme is delivered as quickly and smoothly as possible for firms still adapting to the new EU trading arrangements and the impact of the pandemic.
“The BCC will also continue to offer as much direct support as we can to SMEs especially through ChamberCustoms – our dedicated customs advisory, training and brokerage service.”
Announcing the new fund, Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “The Government has listened carefully to the issues raised by the business community through the Brexit Business Taskforce and that’s why we are bringing forward this financial support to help small businesses adapt to the changes to our trading relationship with the EU.
“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.”
For more information on the SME Brexit Support Fund, click here.
Full guidance on how you can use the grant, who can apply and how to apply, click here.