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Grants for SMEs needing advice on imports and exports

24 February 2021: Small and medium-sized UK businesses needing support on customs duties and VAT will be able to apply to the SME Brexit Fund for a grant of up £2,000 to pay for professional advice or training, confirms HMRC.

HMRC has published initial guidance on the grants available under the new SME Brexit Fund. It states that UK-established businesses with up to 500 employees and a turnover of up to £100m will be eligible to apply for a grant to support staff training or to pay for professional advice.

The grants of up to £2,000 will support organisations that are new to exporting or importing goods in meeting requirements on customs, excise and import VAT, as well as safety and security declarations.

The initial guidance clarifies that to be eligible for a grant the business must have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application and must have met all its previous tax or customs obligations.

The guidance also confirms that alongside paying for training on customs processes, systems and rules, the grants can be used to pay for professional advice to ensure the business meets its obligations.

ICAEW’s Tax Faculty has requested confirmation from HMRC that Chartered Accountants with expertise in customs duties and import VAT would qualify as providing the professional advice upon which grant monies could be spent.

HMRC has also confirmed to the faculty that businesses will have to make applications themselves, that they will need to demonstrate that they are UK established (see above) and that they are new to importing/exporting processes.