Brexit is once again supposedly just weeks away. Whether it’s the new Prime Minister’s insistence that the UK will depart the European Union with or without the deal on 31st October, or the fact that Brexit Day now somewhat fittingly falls on Halloween, it could be that the months of uncertainty for businesses will be over sooner rather than later.
However, millions of small businesses in the UK, as well as some large firms, are still less than ready for a hard exit from the EU.
Some support is on hand, however, with the government announcing a new £10 million Brexit Readiness Fund to help businesses prepare.
The grant scheme, unveiled by new Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, is designed to help organisations, as well as trade associations, organise training courses, webinars, events, workshops and any other strategies to boost levels of readiness ahead of Brexit.
Firms can apply for up to £25,000 each which is funded as part of the £108 million announced earlier in August by the Treasury.
Commenting on the grant launch last week, Leadsom commented that: “The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October. For businesses that still feel unprepared, I am determined to do everything I possibly can to ensure they are fully ready for Brexit.
“We know that companies often rely on the wider business community for help and advice with planning. Business groups will now be given the necessary tools to engage with this crucial task, communicating with non-members and businesses of all sizes.
“The funding we are announcing today will mean business organisations from all sectors across the country can stand resolutely behind businesses large and small to support them in preparing for and seizing the opportunities of, leaving the EU.”
Businesses have until the 30th of September to apply.
Too little too late?
There have been calls from all sides of the business community arguing that the government hasn’t done enough to support UK businesses, either through grant support funding or the availability of information to auto-enrolment in new required documentation or certification schemes.
Only this month the Department of Agriculture warned that the pattern of trade will change following Brexit with the agri-food sector unlikely to be ready to implement Export Health Certificates should there be a crash-out exit.
Read more: ‘Not all businesses will be able to meet the new Export Health Certificate requirements’ after Brexit
The CBI also released a report in the last few weeks that suggested 24 of 27 critical economy areas are underprepared or have next to no plans in place at all, including tariffs, the Irish border and free trade agreements.
However, the number of Authorised Economic Operator applications have increased this year with firms looking to prove their exporting credentials.
Read more: CBI releases 200 actions firms and government should take in preparation for no-deal Brexit, warning ‘no one is ready’
For many small businesses, however, grant money won’t be enough. Many firms lack the in-house time and expertise to formulate a comprehensive pre-Brexit threat analysis and post-departure strategies to cover both an agreed and no-deal exit.
If your business is one of these, find out more about Go Exporting’s Brexit audit and consulting here.