Fund to help businesses trade with the EU welcomed

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A multi-million-pound fund to help SMEs adapt to new trading rules with the EU has been welcomed by business leaders across Coventry and Warwickshire.

The government has announced a £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses who trade exclusively with the EU in adjusting to new customs, rules of origin and VAT rules.

It means that from next month traders will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support and training related to importing and exporting, and the funding will also help businesses to prepare for the implementation of import controls which come into force from April and July.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This will be welcome news to those SMEs who were facing the prospect of having to dip into their already-depleted cash reserves caused by Covid to then seek professional, technical advice on how to navigate new trading rules with the EU.

“Whilst this will help some businesses to carry on trading with the EU as they continue their recovery from the pandemic, those businesses that trade both domestically and with the EU appear to have been omitted – which needs clarity.

“It is going to take time for this support to have a positive impact on businesses cash flow – which needs to be recognised by government when reviewing future financial support packages – but it is an important first step nevertheless in helping firms to acclimatise to these complex rules.

“The Chamber will, as always, be liaising closely with its members over the coming weeks to help those that qualify for the funding to maximise its use, as well as relaying back to government any concerns that businesses are having in adapting to the new rules.

“On top of that, businesses can come to the Chamber’s International Trade Hub for support when it comes to advice, support and training while our recently launched ChamberCustoms service is already helping businesses with the new declaration processes that have come into force since the Brexit transition period ended.”

Commenting on the announcement of the fund, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “This is a welcome first step in dealing with some of the major issues that small businesses trading with the EU are facing. With their finances already under a significant squeeze firms, particularly those which export, are inevitably encountering difficulties in adapting to the complexities of the new arrangements.   “It is now crucial that the grants provide sufficient funds to make a real difference and the government should stand ready to increase their size if needed. We will continue working closely with government to make sure this scheme is delivered as quickly and smoothly as possible for firms still adapting to the new EU trading arrangements and the impact of the pandemic.   “The BCC will also continue to offer as much direct support as we can to SMEs especially through ChamberCustoms – our dedicated customs advisory, training and brokerage service.”

This was posted in Bdaily’s Members’ News section by Matt Joyce .