Kent County Council has welcomed news of a £20 million fund to support businesses trading with the EU.
Announced today (Thursday) the government said the SME Brexit Support Fund will help small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.
KCC Cabinet Member for Economic Development Mike Whiting said: “I’m delighted to see SMEs receiving significant additional support and I would encourage Kent businesses to take advantage of this scheme and apply when applications open next month.
“SMEs that trade only with the EU and are therefore new to importing and exporting will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,000 for each trader to pay for practical support including training and professional advice to ensure they can continue trading effectively with the EU.
“The new import controls come into force from April and July and the government has done these in stages to allow traders and hauliers time to adjust to the new processes. This means businesses do not have to complete new import declarations for up to six months unless they are moving controlled goods.”
Over the last week, freight flows between Great Britain and the EU have reached 98% compared to the same time last year.
Mr Whiting added: “There is little to no disruption at our ports and compliance with the new rules has remained high thanks to the continued efforts of hauliers and UK traders.
“More than 6,000 lorries a day are now leaving the county through Kent’s ports – back to normal expected levels for this time of year – and there were more than 200,000 freight movements across both ports during January, including both import and export traffic.”
Chief Executive at the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Jo James OBE said: “This is a much needed recognition of the challenges businesses are facing in getting to grips with the terms of the EU deal.
“Our Customs and Export Team have been working flat out to support Kent’s business community navigate the new rules and procedures.
“Against the backdrop of economic turmoil brought about by the pandemic, hard hit businesses need this support to ensure they can continue to trade through these tough times. These funds will definitely help.”
Businesses can also visit the Kent International Business website for access to a range of export support organisations in
Kent including the Department for International Trade on practical advice on changes to be made to ensure ongoing export-readiness, and Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce for export and customs documentation.
The Kent & Medway Growth Hub can also offer practical advice.