According to BBC Newsnight, despite there being an £8 million training fund for UK businesses which could be affected by a no-deal Brexit, just 741 firms out of a possible 240,000 have taken the Government up on the offer.
The Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) unveiled the training fund for importers, exporters and trade intermediaries in December.
At the moment, the UK is in the EU single market and customs union, and businesses in the union can trade with each other without having their goods checked at borders and without having to pay import tax. However, in a no-deal scenario, the UK would crash out of the EU with no withdrawal agreement, which could mean that the country leaves the single market and customs union immediately.
If this happened, this would change the way that firms trade with the EU, so the idea behind the fund is to support employee training and IT improvements to complete the needed customs declarations.
As a spokesman for the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) highlighted, having such a low number of firms applying for the grant funding is concerning, and firms need to be more aware of how Brexit could affect them. He added that this is another example of why avoiding a disorderly exit from the EU in October is so important.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that the low take-up was because the Government had failed to publicise the scheme adequately.
The low take-up in funding chimes with the fact that less than a third of relevant organisations have applied for an economic operator and registration identification (EORI) number from HMRC so far, even though this is the most basic official authorisation that businesses could need to continue trading with the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Nigel Fry, General Practice Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “The uptake on the Innovation Loans has been surprisingly low, with firms seemingly unaware of the effects of a potential no-deal Brexit. It’s important for UK companies to be prepared for the eventuality that the country could leave the EU without a deal.
“For advice on matters relating to Corporate Finance, contact us today.”