Michael Gove has announced a £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.
SMEs who trade only with the EU and are 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.
To provide SMEs with additional support, the fund will be administered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme and will open for applications next month.
Michael Gove said: “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.”
Members of the Brexit Business Taskforce have welcomed the additional support.
Mike Cherry, National Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The announcement is very significant. Small businesses, often with few cash reserves, are for the first time facing complex new customs processes, VAT requirements and rules of origin. 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.
The government has also announced that Logistics UK will be joining the Brexit Business Taskforce as standing members from today. Logistics UK’s constructive engagement and advocacy in tackling issues relating to the end of the transition period has been vital in supporting hauliers, traders and their supply chains adjust to our new relationship with the EU.
David Wells, Chief Executive of Logistics UK said: “Logistics UK welcomes the additional support that is being put in place to help SMEs make sure they can adapt and succeed in the new trading environment. These issues directly impact the operations and livelihoods of our members who carry their produce into the EU and have to be confident that the correct paperwork is in place.
“I’m delighted that the government has recognised the importance of Logistics to our economy, and the critical role it plays in our future trading relationships with the EU, by inviting Logistics UK to represent the sector on the Brexit Business Taskforce, alongside the other major business groups in the UK. Logistics UK has been at the forefront of helping government to keep Britain trading and I look forward to continuing our challenging and constructive dialogue focused on securing the best possible outcome for the whole sector and the economy.
“In the last week we have seen overall freight flows between GB and the EU reach 98% when compared to the same time last year. There is still no disruption at ports and compliance with new rules remains high thanks to the continued efforts of hauliers and UK traders.”