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UK government announces £20m SMB Brexit Support Fund

Up to £2,000 in grants available to help pay for support and advice to maintain effective trading

The Union Jack and European flag superimposed over a city backdrop.

UK chancellor Michael Gove has announced a £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to help small and medium-sized businesses when trading with the European Union.

The funding has been made available to help companies tackle new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when conducting business with the bloc.

SMBs that trade solely with the EU are being encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 per trader to help pay for support, training, and professional advice to maintain effective trading.

The government said the move follows “extensive engagement” with individual businesses, leading business organisations, and trade associations from across the UK, including the ‘Brexit Business Taskforce’.

Funds will be delivered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme and will be open for applications from SMBs next month.

“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,” commented Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Government said it made the decision to introduce these new import controls in three stages up to 1st July 2021 to give traders and hauliers “time to adjust to the new processes”. That means businesses will not have to complete new import declarations for up to six months - unless they are moving controlled goods.

Members of the Brexit Business Taskforce, which is chaired by Gove and set up to address Brexit-related business challenges, welcomed the additional support, the Government said.

“Small businesses, often with few cash reserves, are for the first time facing complex new customs processes, VAT requirements and rules of origin,” commented Mike Cherry, National Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses. “While many have come to FSB for help, we have been asking 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, and come up with an excellent response.”
said Allie Rennison, head of Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, adding that the move will help smaller firms manage these new processes.

“This support package delivers on the IoD’s longstanding campaign to help SMBs access the professional advice needed in managing a suite of changes arising from Brexit,” she said.

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