The SME Brexit Support fund will offer grants of up to £2,000 to businesses that turn over less than £100m annually that have had to revamp their processes to deal with new customs processes, rules of origin and VAT requirements.
The funds are intended to cover the costs of training staff on how to handle customs declarations and systems and to familiarise them with the new third-country VAT and excise rules.
For accountants and VAT specialists, it is worth noting that the grants can also be used to cover professional advice to help businesses meet their import and export admin obligations.
The fund, which is being administered by PwC, will open for applications in the near future from companies that meet the following criteria:
UK-registered for and established for at least 12 months, or hold Authorised Economic Operator status
not previously failed to meet its tax or customs obligations
Annual turnover less than £100m and fewer than 500 employees.
Coming from Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office, effectively keeping the business impacts of Brexit well away from any Budget-related announcements, the Brexit support fund drew public support from business organisations including the Federation of Small Business and the Institute of Directors.
Institute of Directors (IoD) head of trade policy Allie Rennison commented: “This support package delivers on the IoD’s longstanding campaign to help SMEs access the professional advice needed in managing a suite of changes arising from Brexit.
“Smaller firms simply cannot manage many of the processes themselves and require experts across a range of areas to assist with trade continuity, and we commend this government for responding to our call.”
In a parallel move to target help at UK fisheries, the government also set up a £23m seafood support scheme fund to compensate exporters who lost business when they were unable to export their catches during January.
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