Deadline for export grants for Brexit preparation extended

The Treasury and HMRC have extended the deadline to end May for applications for an £8m government funding grant for customs and export related training due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty and low take-up

Companies can now apply for funding until 31 May 2019 as the original 5 April deadline passed without a Brexit outcome. The funding was first announced last October to help businesses prepare for a no deal scenario but so far only 300 applications have been received.

The extension should allow more businesses to access the funding and provide more time for applications, despite continuing uncertainty over a potential Brexit date.

Big Four firm PwC is administering the grants on behalf of HMRC and applications have to be made via the online service. HMRC stresses that all applications must go through PwC as the intermediary.

Businesses can apply for both training and IT grants although there are restrictions on eligible businesses in terms of turnover. The IT grant is only available to current customs intermediaries with 250 employees or less and an annual turnover of £50m or less.

The funding will support customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations, and can be used to help businesses meet the costs of employee training and IT improvements.

All businesses who move goods into or out of the EU – even if it is just once a year – need to sign up for an EORI number - a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

To apply for the training grant, businesses must import from or export to the EU and complete customs declarations (or intend to complete customs declarations in the future). The IT improvements grant is available for SMEs who currently complete customs declarations for importers and exporters.

Meantime, on the future of VAT compliance post Brexit, HMRC has written a number of letters to the 145,000 VAT registered businesses that trade with the EU to advise them how to prepare for a no deal scenario, and has published more than 100 pages of guidance for businesses on processes and procedures at the border in a no deal scenario.

PwC portal, Grant application process if business completes customs declarations

Report by Sara White

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