Posted: Thu 5th Jul 2018
Small business support network Enterprise Nation has called on the government to introduce a subsidised Brexit Advice and Training Service for SMEs.
The organisation, which represents the views of thousands of small and micro businesses as well as self-employed individuals, warns a subsidised advice service is desperately needed now to help firms prepare for the consequences of the exit from the EU.
The call comes on the day MP Andrew Griffiths, Minister for Small Business is questioned by the Government's Internal Markets Sub-Committee on the impact of Brexit on Britain's smallest firms.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation and Government Crown SME Representative, said: "As Brexit approaches, we are seeing more and more small firms ask for help. The budgeting and forecasting they are doing now includes the post-Brexit period - and they need to know they are ready for all the scenarios they will face. We need to make this much easier.
"They need to plan for the new expenses they may need to find in case their current EU supplier/manufacturer becomes too expensive, they need to find an on-the-ground representative in the countries they export to, or maybe even make arrangements to open a registered office.
"How much money do they need to set-aside for EU VAT tax registration etc? What extra administration burden will there be at customs? While larger firms have already spent millions on preparation, smaller companies just haven't had the time or resources to get ready.
"A Brexit Advice Service will go a long way to help them be prepared for all eventualities.
"The Government must act on these legitimate economic concerns while helping small firms get the most beneficial Brexit possible."
The group points to the Brexit Advisory Service already put in place by the Irish government, which sees SMEs receive state funding up to a total sum of €2,000 for advice. Enterprise Nation proposes a match-funded service up to £3,000 (£1,500 from the Government, £1,500 from the business) which could be spent on advice - and crucially training for staff.
While the Irish model offers 100% funding, Enterprise Nation suggests a subsidised service offering match-funding for advice and training up to an agreed level along the lines of the Government's Growth Voucher initiative would be an efficient way to deploy relevant private sector expert advice.
Emma added: "Offering a glide-path to a successful Brexit will have the effect of minimising the impact and helping to increase confidence at a critical time."