The UK Government has announced a revised timetable for the introduction of border control processes, amid calls for clarity from businesses.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of State for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, and his department have been holding roundtable discussions with businesses to understand the challenges they are facing trading in the post-Brexit world.
Those trading with the EU are eager to understand what government support will be available as the economy emerges from Covid-19 restrictions, as well as how to access guidance regarding the new trading rules.
The government's immediate response, detailed in a recent press release, has been to delay the implementation of full border control processes by six months. Unilateral action in breach of the agreement reached with the EU has once again raised the spectre of a no-deal Brexit.
The review represents the first significant update to the timetable for the phased introduction of import controls, announced in June last year. The UK Government acknowledges that the disruption caused by the pandemic has lasted far longer than originally anticipated, and this review seeks to address concerns that businesses need more time to prepare.
Key changes include an extension on the option to use the deferred declaration scheme and a delay to certain pre-notification requirements documentary checks, which will now be introduced from 1 January 2022.
Support for SMEs trading with the EU
Kwarteng has also announced a range of financial support for small and medium sized businesses to take advantage of the six-month period to prepare for the full range of customs, rules or origin and VAT rules.
As part of the support rolled out, there are a number of online toolkits to help smaller businesses navigate the new rules and plan the actions they need to take. These include:
- An SME toolkit, available to download here under "Resources"
- Guidance on the £20m SME Brexit Support Fund, including details on eligibility
- The Brexit Checker Tool on GOV.UK, which gives businesses a personalised list of actions that they need to take
- Numerous helplines which businesses can contact if they need further information.
Brexit remains an area of uncertainty for both UK-based companies and those doing business with the UK. In addition to the guidance and tools provided by the UK Government, businesses will need the support of their professional advisers and service providers to navigate the months ahead as the post-Brexit situation continues to evolve.
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