Small business support network Enterprise Nation has renewed calls on the UK government to introduce a subsidised Brexit Advice and Training Service for smaller firms as the UK edges closer to a no deal Brexit.
The organisation, which represents the views of thousands of small and micro businesses as well as self-employed individuals, warned last month that the British government was in danger of getting in the way of business and risking people’s livelihoods if Theresa May’s deal was rejected in favour of a disorderly exit from the EU.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “The nearer we get to the reality of a no deal Brexit, the more the firms we represent are asking us for help. The budgeting and forecasting they are doing now includes the post-Brexit period - so they need to know now that they are ready for any or all of the scenarios they may face, even if we can’t have the clarity and certainty we need.
“While larger firms have already spent millions on preparation, smaller companies just haven’t had the time or resources to get ready yet - but now is the time to do it.
“A Brexit Advice Service will go a long way to help them be prepared for all eventualities, deal or no deal, as evidenced by the fact that Scotland, Ireland and other EU nations have already started to hand out advice.
“The Government must act on these legitimate economic concerns while helping small firms here at home get the most beneficial Brexit possible.
“We need to make this much easier for business.”
The Brexit Advisory Service already put in place by the Irish government, 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 smoother glide-path to a successful Brexit will have the effect of minimising the impact and helping to increase confidence at a critical time.”