The government has offered £20m for the Brexit Support Fund to help small businesses with changes to EU trade rules.
The Brexit Support Fund is meant to help Britain’s 6m small businesses cope with new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules import that come into force from April and July.
The existing Customs Grant Scheme will administer the Brexit Support Fund, which will open for applications in March.
What the government calls new import controls will come into effect in three stages up to 1st July 2021 to allow traders and hauliers adjust to new red tape. More details can be found in the Border Operating Model.
Businesses do not have to complete new import declarations for up to six months, unless they are moving controlled goods.
Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 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.”
Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small businesses, often with few cash reserves, are for the first time facing complex new customs processes, VAT requirements and rules of origin … we have been asking for proper financial assistance of this scale, so that a cash-strapped small business can afford to buy-in expertise, training and practical support.”
Commenting on the Brexit Support Fund, Institute of Directors director-general Jonathan Geldart said: “This is a significant milestone in getting government to engage with the needs of industry around challenges that Brexit presents.
“The IoD has been championing the need for such a scheme for nearly four years, and while it may seem a case of better late than never, the need for help with managing adjustment is even greater than it was for planning.
“The minimal time given to business to adapt to the end of the transition period has disproportionately impacted goods trade, but we hope to see the scheme make provisions to ensure SMEs dealing with changes to services trade can benefit.”