UK Government announces £20m SME Brexit support fund
The UK Government 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 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.
This 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.
Chaired by Michael Gove the weekly meetings provided an opportunity to identify challenges and find solutions to outstanding issues. 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.
Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Many Scottish businesses have already encountered severe problems with the new EU – UK trading arrangements, particularly in our invaluable food & drink sector. At a time when they are already dealing with restrictions on how they can trade due to the pandemic, trade disruption threatens many of our flagship exports.
“While this announcement is a welcome start and recognition from the UK Government that SMEs need financial help, greater support will be needed if businesses are to successfully navigate the new administrative barriers to trade that they now face.
“The UK Government must act now and fast to distribute this fund as quickly as possible - SMEs cannot afford to wait weeks and weeks at this time.
“Local Chambers across Scotland and the UK are standing by to offer direct support with customs and trade.”
Allie Rennison, head of trade policy at the Institute of Directors, added: “This support package delivers on the IoD’s longstanding campaign to help SMEs access the professional advice needed in managing a suite of changes arising from Brexit.
“Smaller firms simply cannot manage many of the processes themselves and require experts across a range of areas to assist with trade continuity, and we commend this government for responding to our call.
“The government is also announcing 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.”