If your company does business in Europe, did you know that you can apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to cover training and other professional support?
The Government has just opened the £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund, which is aimed at helping small to medium-sized businesses dealing with the European Union (EU) to get the practical support they need to handle all the post-Brexit customs and tax procedures.
The measure has been announced after it was revealed that small businesses have been the hardest hit by the post-Brexit customs arrangements.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) surveyed nearly 1,500 small companies and found that 23% had temporarily stopped selling to the EU, while 4% had ceased permanently. A further 11% of exporters were considering stopping exports for good.
More than two thirds of importers and exporters revealed that they had incurred delays when trading with the EU, or had lost goods in transit.
“Small businesses that deal with Europe have been burdened with new processes and more paperwork since 1 January 2021,” says John Sheehan, Tax Partner at UHY Hacker Young. “The Government and HMRC recognise the pressure this has put on small businesses and is now encouraging companies to apply for this new funding.
“If you need formal training or just some advice, our experts have been busy helping a broad spectrum of clients who trade with the EU. Whether you deal in microchips or makeup, we recommend that you take advantage and apply for a grant.”
To find out more, here is our essential guide to the SME Brexit Support Fund…
Is my business eligible?
The grants are available to SMEs with an annual turnover of up to £100 million, who employ up to 500 staff. To be able to apply for a grant, your business must do one of the following:
- Export or import goods between Great Britain and the EU
- Export or import goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, your company must have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before starting the application, or currently has Authorised Economic Operator status. Any company which has previously failed to meet tax or customs obligations will be unable to apply.
Technically, businesses have until 30 June 2021 to apply for a grant. However, the funding is capped at £20 million, so the scheme could end sooner if all the funding has been allocated.
What does the grant cover?
Businesses can use the money to invest in training staff on the new, post-Brexit customs regime, which can include:
- New software and IT systems
- Completing customs declarations
- Managing new processes
- Professional advice
- Dealing with tax implications, such as VAT and rules of origin.
Are more customs changes on the way?
New custom checks were due to come into force in July 2021 but, in order to give businesses more time to prepare, these have been postponed until January 2022.
Since 1 January 2021, full import customs declarations have only been needed for controlled goods such as tobacco and alcohol. From January 2022, businesses must provide full customs declarations for all goods at the time of import.
Some companies can qualify for Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP), which is an electronic system designed to speed up the importation process. Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-simplified-declarations-for-imports
The next step
If you require help or advice on the SME Brexit Support Fund, or on trading with the EU, the experts at UHY will be more than happy to help. Get in touch with your local UHY adviser here.