SMEs to UK.gov: We need vouchers for tech and training ahead of final Brexit curtain falling

'Still no clear sense of what we'll be transitioning to' warns Fed of Small Biz

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SMEs in Britain are urging the government to provide ‘transition vouchers” to be spent on tech, expertise and training as a way to help smooth the waves when the country exits the European Union.

The plea for help was made by the head of the Federation of Small Businesses today as negotiators for the UK administration and the 27-member-state economic union meet to again begin thrashing out a trade deal acceptable to both sides.

The economy is in a very different place today compared to the last time we were told to prepare for a no-deal outcome

Britain left the EU - a political and economic union of European countries - at the end of January but as part of the departure agreed a transition period until 31 December during which it is still governed by EU regulations and remains part of the single market and customs union.

Mike Cherry, chairman at the FSB, warned the clock is ticking and yet SMEs “still have no clear sense of what they’ll be transitioning to.”

Trucks queue at the port of Dover.

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“The economy is in a very different place today compared to the last time we were told to prepare for a no-deal outcome. Small firms don’t have the time or money to get across new bureaucracy or stockpile,” he said.

Just last week, Logistics UK - formerly the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association - told The Reg of concerns of members about the impact on their business of border systems that have yet to be user-tested months before the exit date.

Businesses crave predictability, but Brexit uncertainty, compounded by the impact of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic - along with the accompanying furlough scheme provided by UK.gov, which is due to close next month - has left many fearing for the future.

Cherry added:

“Given that small firms have been flat out managing coronavirus-linked disruption for the past six months, the government needs to step in with substantial financial support to assist with transition preparations.

“Transition vouchers mark a sensible way forward: set sums that can be spent on expertise, tech and training that will ease the small business community’s move to a new relationship with the EU,” the FSB chair added.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said:

“Our goals remain reaching a trade agreement with the EU that recognises the fundamentals of our position as an independent, sovereign country, and we continue to work hard to achieve that.” ®

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