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Free government-funded customs training and consultancy worth thousands of pounds for SMEs

By Karolina Skinner
17 May 2021

SMEs across a wide variety of industries have until 30 June to apply for government funding to gain access to free Brexit-related training and consultancy services worth thousands of pounds to assist them with all aspects of importing and exporting.

SMEs across a wide variety of industries have until 30 June to apply for government funding to gain access to free Brexit-related training and consultancy services

Firms with up to 500 employees and an annual turnover of no more than £100 million can apply before the deadline for training and consultancy on how to complete customs declarations, use customs software and systems, and manage import and export-related processes such as VAT, excise and rules of origin. The SME Brexit Support Fund could give firms up to £2,000 to help with training or professional advice.

Tamara Habberley, senior consultant at The VAT People, a specialist consultancy that provides advice and training to businesses relating to their VAT and customs obligations, said: “This opportunity for help importing and exporting is a fantastic chance for businesses to improve their knowledge and skills in this complicated area.

“We regularly work with firms across a variety of industries that require assistance getting to grips with the complexities of customs and VAT, and this will provide a much-needed lifeline at a time when many businesses are strapped for cash.”

Undergoing training and receiving guidance on matters relating to customs and VAT will help businesses to ensure that potentially costly accounting errors are avoided, and also adds to the bundle of evidence of reasonable care that may prove vital if an error does occur.

As part of the government scheme, applicants for funding must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application, or currently hold Authorised Economic Operator status
  • No previous failure to meet tax or customs obligations
  • No more than 500 employees
  • No more than £100m turnover
  • Only import or export goods between Britain and the EU, or move goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Applicants must also complete (or intend to complete) import or export declarations internally for their own goods. In addition, they may use a third party’s services 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).

Businesses that already import or export goods from or to a country that is not in the EU are not eligible to apply for the grant.

Habberley said: “This support will go a long way in helping businesses to make sense of their importing and exporting obligations after Brexit. The UK’s departure from the EU affected firms significantly, with many left without support when it came to finding out about their operations under the new rules.”

The VAT People, which will offer training and consultancy services to businesses as part of the government scheme, has been offering bespoke training opportunities to businesses for several decades. Businesses can apply online for the funding.

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