£20m SME Brexit Support Fund opens for applications

Smaller businesses can now apply for grants of up to £2,000 to help them adapt to new customs and tax rules when trading with the EU.

The £20m SME Brexit Support Fund enables traders to access practical support, including training for new customs, rules of origin and VAT processes.

Katherine Green, director general for borders and trade at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: “We recognise that changes to customs rules have been challenging for small and micro businesses, and this is why we are encouraging business owners to apply for support through the SME Brexit Support Fund.

“We do not take for granted that the UK’s small businesses – from designers creating bespoke handmade pieces from their kitchen tables, to those selling sweet treats – are vital to the growth and prosperity of our economy, so we look forward to supporting them with practical help to do business with our European partners, on top of a wide range of support available from the government.”

Small and medium sized businesses that trade solely with the EU – and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes – are encouraged to apply for the grants.

The fund, announced in February by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, is the latest round of government support for UK trade.

To be eligible, businesses must import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This follows the government setting out a new timetable for introducing import border control processes to enable UK businesses to focus on their recovery. Full import border control processes will now be introduced on 1 January 2022, six months later than originally planned.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, said: “The vast majority of UK small firms that do business overseas trade with the EU. Not only are they trying to stay afloat as lockdowns gradually ease, they now have new, unfamiliar paperwork and costs to navigate when they buy from, or sell to, Europe.

“That’s why we asked the government for targeted funding to help them navigate these fresh demands, and it’s brilliant to see that funding go live today.

“We encourage all eligible small businesses to take a look and apply for this new source of help.”

Jon Geldart, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Smaller firms have long needed assistance with managing the host of new requirements that come with changing our EU trading arrangements, and that need has only grown in the current adjustment phase.

“This is why the Institute of Directors has campaigned for so long to help companies with the cost of accessing the professional advice they need, and we commend the government for stepping in to do so.”

More information about the SME Brexit Support Fund, including details of how to apply, can be found on GOV.UK.