A multimillion-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 £20m SME Brexit Support Fund to support businesses which trade exclusively with the EU in adjusting to new customs, rules of origin and VAT rules.
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.
Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “T his is a welcome first step in dealing with some of the major issues that small businesses trading with the EU are facing.
“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.”