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SME Brexit Support Fund opens for applications

Published:  16 March, 2021

The £20m SME Brexit Support Fund, announced last month, is now open for applications. 

As part of the £20m support fund, SMEs can apply for grants of up to £2,000 to help them adapt to new customs and tax rules when trading with the EU.

The fund enables traders to access practical support, including training for new customs, rules of origin and VAT processes, said HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 

“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,” said Katherine Green and Sophie Dean, directors general, Borders and Trade, HMRC.

“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,” they said.

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

Mike Cherry, chairman, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added: “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,” he said.

This, he added, was why FSB had asked the government for targeted funding to “help them navigate these fresh demands, and it’s brilliant to see that funding go live today”. 

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.