The chief executive of Logistics UK has welcomed the announcement of a £20 million “Brexit Support Fund” aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises who trade with the European Union.
According to the UK Government’s official press release, the cash injection is intended “to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.”
The statement says that SMEs who trade only with the EU, and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes, will be encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000. These grants should be used by traders to pay for practical support including training and professional advice that can ensure they continue trading effectively with the EU.
The announcement follows a series of meetings with “leading business organisations and trade associations from across all parts of the UK” as part of the Brexit Business Taskforce. Chaired by Michael Gove, the weekly meetings “provided an opportunity to identify challenges and find solutions to outstanding issues.”
The government says the grants will be administered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme and will open for applications next month.
According to the rules of the Customs Grant Scheme, businesses must be “based in, or have a branch, in the UK at both the time of application and payment of the grant.”
On top of that, those applying must:
- Complete or intend to complete customs declarations on behalf of its clients (this includes customs brokers, express operators and freight forwarders); or
- Import/export goods and complete or intend to complete customs declarations internally for its own goods; or
- Be an organisation which recruits, trains and places apprentices into customs intermediaries or other organisations which undertake customs declarations activity; or
- Be an importer or exporter who will be newly required to declare their goods to customs as a result of the UK leaving the EU and who may not want to complete their own declarations. If this applies to your organisation, you will be able to apply for training up to £1,000 only.
The grants are intended to help businesses get to grips with the new customs checks that the UK Government will introduce in July. At this moment in time, full customs checks are not being conducted at Dover, which is one of the reasons why there have been no lorry queues in Kent.
Commenting on the grant scheme, Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said:
The Government has listened carefully to the issues raised by the business community through the Brexit Business Taskforce and that’s why we are bringing forward this financial support to help small businesses adapt to the changes to our trading relationship with the EU. This new targeted funding will see small businesses get more of the practical support they need to adjust to the new processes and prepare for further changes as we implement our own import controls in April and July. Together we will seize new opportunities available to a fully independent global trading United Kingdom.
David Wells, Chief Executive of Logistics UK , has also welcomed the news:
Logistics UK welcomes the additional support that is being put in place to help SMEs make sure they can adapt and succeed in the new trading environment. These issues directly impact the operations and livelihoods of our members who carry their produce into the EU and have to be confident that the correct paperwork is in place. I’m delighted that the government has recognised the importance of Logistics to our economy, and the critical role it plays in our future trading relationships with the EU, by inviting Logistics UK to represent the sector on the Brexit Business Taskforce, alongside the other major business groups in the UK. Logistics UK has been at the forefront of helping government to keep Britain trading and I look forward to continuing our challenging and constructive dialogue focused on securing the best possible outcome for the whole sector and the economy.
The grants come after a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce found that 49% of exporters are facing difficulties in adapting to the changes in the trade of goods following the ratification of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 1 January 2021.
The offer of financial help will more than likely be welcomed by small and medium sized logistics businesses across the country.
However, for some hauliers, the £2,000 offered is small change compared to the losses they incurred at the start of the year. Whites Transports Services and Templar European Logistics are just two examples of hauliers who had lost thousands at the start of the year while they familiarised themselves with the new trading environment.