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Government announces £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund

The £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund will help small businesses with changes to trade rules with the EU.

– Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster announces £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to help small businesses with changes to trade rules with the EU;

– Traders will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting;

– Fund will help businesses to prepare for the implementation of import controls which come into force from April and July.

Today (Thursday 11 February), the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 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 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.

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. Having taken back control of our borders, we made the pragmatic decision to introduce new import controls in three stages up to 1 July 2021 to allow traders and hauliers time to adjust to new processes. This means businesses do not have to complete new import declarations for up to six months, unless they are moving controlled goods.

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Commenting on the announcement of the fund, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, 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, are inevitably 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.”

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