The Treasury Committee might have set aside £108mn of its £2.1mn budget to “promote and support businesses to ensure they are ready for Brexit”, but The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said that most of its members are “desperately under prepared” for a no deal scenario.
How small businesses will be helped through the transition period is far from clear and there is scant information about how the business support fund is to be allocated.
Both the FSB and Institute of Directors have mooted a “Brexit vouchers” scheme allowing companies to fund advice tailored to their specific operations. The value of said vouchers should be between £1,000 and £3,000 to help people buy in some expertise – eg, specialist legal, staffing and compliance advice – and successfully vault the hurdles of no deal.
Support for stockpiling might also be in order, as there is an expectation that much of the available warehouse space will be booked by the time smaller companies start making plans, at which point space will be at a premium.
One practical suggestion is for SMEs to be automatically issued with the Economic Operator Registration and Identification numbers (EORI) that businesses which trade exclusively with the EU will need in the event of no deal. Of the estimated 240,000 firms that need one, only about a third have received or applied for the number – a useful indicator of their overall preparedness. Suffice to say that Businesses will also be included in a £138mn public information campaign to “get ready to leave”.
For more information on EORI visit: https://www.gov.uk/eori