Government announces £20m fund to support SME businesses with customs procedures

container vessel moored in the port

In response to concerns raised around the impact of new trading procedures on small- and medium-sized businesses, the UK government has launched a new scheme to support SMEs with customs procedures.

Under the new SME Brexit Support Fund, established SMEs that trade with the EU or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland can now access a grant of up to £2,000. This grant will help businesses to access training and professional advice on areas such as customs processes, VAT, excise duty and rules of origin.

The fund is targeted at businesses with no more than 500 employees or £100m turnover, and which complete (or intend to complete) import or export declarations internally or require additional internal capabilities on import and export procedures. Businesses must have been established in the UK for at least 12 months, or hold Authorised Economic Operator status before submitting an application.

Gail Soutar

The NFU’s chief adviser on EU exit and international trade Gail Soutar, pictured above, said:

"This announcement will provide some welcome news to the many food and farming businesses who trade with the EU or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“Since 1 January the UK’s agri-food sector has been struggling with the additional costs and burdens that moving goods to the EU now entails, with new customs procedures and paperwork requirements. This is exacerbated if products are turned back or held up at the border, and exporters run the risk of financial losses or lost markets if they cannot meet the new requirements.
“More needs to be done to address the burdens on exporters to the EU, including the digitalisation of outdated paperwork requirements for health and organic certificates, and streamlining physical and administrative checks at the border, but access to this funding will help business access trading and professional advice on areas such as customs processes, VAT, excise duty and rules of origin."

How to apply for funding

Visit the Gov.uk website to find out more about who can apply for grants and what you can use the money for.

The closing date for applications is 30 June 2021 or earlier if the funding has already been fully allocated.

Grants will be administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

More on international trade from NFUonline: