The government has been urged to make the application process for Brexit-related training grants easier by some of the UK’s leading trade associations.
Bodies including the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have also argued that take-up for the funding has been lower than expected.
British businesses have been adjusting to new rules for trade with the EU as a result of the UK completing its departure from the single market and customs union at the end of last year.
To assist firms, the government has provided £20m of support through its SME Brexit Support Fund, which businesses can use to cover the cost of training and professional advice.
The training or consultancy must aid the applying business to complete customs declarations, manage customs processes or better understand specific import and export-related issues such as VAT, excise and rules of origin.
Although the funding has been available since February this year, uptake has not been as high as expected.
However, representatives of the IOE&IT, BCC and FSB have told the Times that this is likely due to the complexity of the application process, rather than a lack of interest from businesses.
“It has not been as clear and as quick as people had hoped,” an IOE&IT spokesman said. “We are not seeing take-up on the level we would anticipate, given the interest.”
“Some think it is only for customs-related help, as the website is hosted by HMRC, but the £2,000 grant can be used for much more, such as training,” said Mike Cherry, national chair of the FSB.
Brexit support package
The IOE&IT aims to support firms assisting them with their application process.
Its SME Brexit Support Package, which includes bespoke training delivered in-house via a virtual classroom, is fundable by the grants.
For more information about the package and how to successfully apply for the funding, visit: https://www.export.org.uk/page/BrexitSupportSMEs