£20 million Brexit support for small and medium sized businesses

The UK officially leaving the EU has resulted in a number of new customs and tax rule changes when trading with the EU. As such, from 15 March 2021, smaller businesses are able to apply for grants of up to £2,000 to help them with the adaption process. This comes as part of the £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund which enables traders to access practical support, including training for new customs, rules of origin and VAT processes.

Changes to customs rules have been challenging for small and micro businesses especially and this is why the government are encouraging business owners to apply for support through this new fund. This means that small and medium sized businesses which trade solely with the EU, and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes, are encouraged to apply for the grants.

In order to be eligible, businesses must import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This follows the new timetable for introducing import border control processes in attempt to help UK businesses to focus on their recovery. Full import border control processes will now be introduced on 1 January 2022 which is six months later than originally planned.

What can I use the grant for?

When applying for the grant, you will be able to the use the money for training on:

  • how to complete customs declarations
  • how to manage customs processes and use customs software and systems
  • specific import and export related aspects including VAT, excise and rules of origin

So, this is not a grant by which business owners can just store the money for a rainy day; it can be used to help you get professional advice so that your business can meet its customs, excise, import VAT or safety and security declaration requirements.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply?

You can apply for the SME Brexit Support Fund if your business meets the following criteria:

  • Your business is established in the UK
  • Your business had been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application, or currently hold Authorised Economic Operator Status.
  • Your business has not previously failed to meet its tax or customs obligations.
  • Your business must have no more than 500 employees.
  • Your business must have no more than £100 million turnover.
  • Your business must import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Your business must also either:

  • complete (or intend to complete) import or export declarations internally for its own goods.
  • use someone else to complete import or export declarations but requires additional capability internally to effectively import or export (such as advice on rules of origin or advice on dealing with a supply chain).

I am eligible, how do I apply?

The grants are being administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of HMRC. Applications will close on 30 June 2021, or earlier if all funding is allocated before this date – so get your applications in ASAP! You can apply online here.


Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, said:

“The vast majority of UK small firms that do business overseas trade with the EU. Not only are they trying to stay afloat as lockdowns gradually ease, they now have new, unfamiliar paperwork and costs to navigate when they buy from, or sell to, Europe.

That’s why we asked the government for targeted funding to help them navigate these fresh demands, and it’s brilliant to see that funding go live today.

We encourage all eligible small businesses to take a look and apply for this new source of help.”


If you have any questions about any of the content in this article, please contact your usual Partner or Manager, or call us on 01942 242 245, and we will be happy to help.



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