Posted: Thu 11th Feb 2021
A new £20m fund will provides small and medium sized businesses with £2,000 grants to help them deal with changes to trade rules with the EU.
SMEs who trade only with the EU and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes will be able to apply for grants through the SME Brexit Support Fund. They can use the money to pay for training and advice on areas including customs, rules of origin and VAT rules.
Cabinet Office minister 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.
"Together we will seize new opportunities available to a fully independent global trading United Kingdom."
Enterprise Nation has long campaigned for the government to introduce vouchers to help businesses export.
Commenting on the new fund, Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones said: "This is excellent news for small businesses that have been hit particularly hard by new export regulations. Enterprise Nation first called for this in 2016 because it was clear then that there would be an extra cost burden on micro and small firms.
"In our view this should be spent on advice from an expert or specific training to help firms get over the current barriers to trade - form filling, border handling costs and logistics.
"Small firms tell us the communication around the changes has been less than helpful. This will go some way to appease this."
The news following several reports of problems for businesses trying to adapt to the new Brexit rules, especially in Northern Ireland which remains part of the EU single market.
The Road Haulage Association has said exports to the EU have fallen by 68% since Brexit, but in the press release accompanying the annoucement of the fund, the government said overall freight flows between GB and the EU during the past week reached 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," it added.
Applications for the grants are not yet open but this page has more details. To be eligible, businesses must:
be established in the UK
have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application, or currently hold Authorised Economic Operator status
not have previously failed to meet its tax or customs obligations
have no more than 500 employees
have no more than £100 million turnover
import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or moves goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Access advice, connect with exporting experts and ask questions through Enterprise Nation's Brexit Advice Service.