The SME Brexit Support Fund has been established to help small and medium businesses with changes to trading regulations with the EU, including new customs, rules of origin, and VAT arrangements.
The Fund will help businesses to prepare for the implementation of import controls which come into force from April and July 2021. The Government is introducing these new controls in stages, allowing 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.
This is a £20 million programme. SMEs that 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. The grants will pay for practical support for importing and exporting, including training and professional advice to ensure businesses can continue trading effectively with the EU.
To provide SMEs with additional support, the fund will be administered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme.
In addition to this new support, the Government is operating a range of other support schemes including a guarantee scheme aimed at SMEs which means the Government can provide an 80% guarantee on financial support from lenders to help with general exporting costs, up to the value of £25 million.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said:
'The Government has listened carefully to the issues raised by the business community through the Brexit Business Taskforce and that's why we are bringing forward this financial support to help small businesses adapt to the changes to our trading relationship with the EU.'
The scheme will be will open for applications in March 2021.