Date posted: 26th Feb 2021
As you will know if you have seen any news recently, there have been vast swathes of changes to the customs formalities required when moving goods between the UK and the EU, with even more complexities in respect of movements to, from, or through Northern Ireland.
For businesses used to trading with non-EU countries, the paperwork will be familiar but for those who have only ever traded with the EU, there is a steep learning curve.
In recognition of this, there are two types of government grants available to help businesses get up to speed with the new rules.
Funding for Recruitment, Employee Training, and IT
In order to be eligible for one of these grants, a business must have been established in the UK for at least 12 months or hold Authorised Economic Operator status.
They must also meet one of these descriptions:
- complete or intend to complete customs declarations on behalf of your clients
- be an importer or exporter and complete, or intend to complete, declarations internally for your own goods
- be an organisation which recruits, trains and places apprentices in businesses to undertake customs declarations
- trade with the EU and do not intend to complete your own declarations, but want to undertake customs training
Grants available include:
- Up to £3,000 towards recruitment costs for new employees required to deal with the new formalities
- Up to £12,000 towards the salary of new or redeployed employees
- Up to £1,500 per employee for external training
- Up to £250 per employee for internal training
- 100% of costs relating to IT expenditure to improve the efficiency of making customs declarations
£80million has been made available through the grant scheme but it is nearing full allocation and so you need to move fast if you would like to apply.
Full details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/grants-for-businesses-that-complete-customs-declarations
Interestingly, I successfully applied for a grant through the scheme to cover training up to Level 4 Certificate in Advanced Customs Compliance. Unfortunately, the course has been put on hold whilst the documentation is updated to reflect the UK/EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement but I’m hoping it will recommence soon.
I didn’t find the application process particularly user friendly, however, it’s worth persevering!
For the training grant, you need to submit a quote from the training provider with the initial application and then upload an invoice and a copy of your bank statement evidencing that it has been paid.
Grants for Small & Medium Businesses
The SME Brexit Support Fund was unveiled on 11 February 2021 and can be accessed by businesses with up to 500 employees and no more than £100 million annual turnover.
There is not a great deal of information available yet, but the scheme can be used to claim up to £2,000 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
It can be used to help you get professional advice so your business can meet its customs, excise, import VAT or safety and security declaration requirements.
To qualify, a business must:
- be established in the UK
- have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application, or currently hold Authorised Economic Operator status
- not have previously failed to meet its tax or customs obligations
- have no more than 500 employees
- have no more than £100 million turnover
- import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or moves 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, or
- use someone else to complete import or export declarations but require additional capability internally to effectively import or export (such as advice on rules of origin or advice on dealing with a supply chain)
Once applications open, you will be able to apply online. The main issue is that, at the time of writing, we don’t have an exact date for when applications will open and most businesses need advice now in order to keep goods moving. I don’t know, but I suspect that grants will have to be applied for before any costs are incurred. That might mean this is too late for a lot of businesses. If you do need advice on Brexit issues, and it is not urgent, it is definitely worth holding off until you can apply for a grant to help towards the costs.