Small businesses in East Devon are being encouraged to prepare for Brexit and make use of the resources available

The Cabinet Office-led Get Ready for Brexit public campaign is now in full swing. A recent Bank of England Agent’s survey has suggested that almost two thirds of businesses report being ‘as ready as they can be’ for a no deal Brexit.

What is unclear is whether smaller businesses are up to speed on the changes that may impact their individual enterprises and what resources are available right now to help them prepare. Small and micro enterprises make up almost 90% of East Devon’s business base and East Devon District Council is keen to ensure that they are as ready as they can be in this period of uncertainty.

The following updates and resources will be useful to business owners and business support providers in the run-up to 31 October 2019:

Checker Tool: business owners can check the specific preparations they need to make on the Gov.uk website - this is particularly relevant if they import or export, deal with personal data or employ EU nationals. The tool is intuitive to navigate and requires the user to answer seven questions to receive guidance relevant to their business, including information on what is changing in their industry as well as specific rules and regulations.

HoTSW LEP Growth Hub: At a more local level, the Growth Hub has access to a range of resources provided by HM Government, BEIS and partners, which aim to help businesses plan for the various Brexit scenarios that they may face. For more information, including details of free direct 1-2-1 support and business readiness events throughout October, visit the HoTSW website.

Import and Export Trader Helpline: HMRC has now launched the EU Exit Import and Export Trader Helpline for traders and hauliers importing from or exporting to the EU after 31 October. The helpline number is 0300 3301 331. Lines will be open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

£10m Brexit Readiness Fund: A reminder that business organisations, trade associations and industry bodies can apply for grants of £25,000 and over from the Business Readiness Fund to help UK businesses prepare for a no-deal Brexit. This may be through producing advice packs, running events, training courses and webinars. The deadline for grant applications is Monday 30 September 2019. Applications will be processed in just 5 days and you can apply now on the Gov.uk website. For further information contact: businessreadinessfundenquiries@beis.gov.uk

Cllr Kevin Blakey, East Devon’s portfolio holder for Economy, said:

We understand that time is precious for anyone running a business, but understanding how your enterprise may be impacted by changes associated with EU departure needs to be a priority. We encourage any business owners who haven’t yet used the online Brexit checker tool to visit https://www.gov.uk/get-ready-brexit-check and be provided with information specific to their business and industry on what to prepare for, including in the event of a no deal Brexit. It only takes minutes to access the information you need.

Cllr Ben Ingham, the Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

Many people are unclear about what resources exist to help businesses prepare for Brexit, especially across our small and micro business sectors. East Devon District Council were one of the first authorities to publish and maintain up to date Brexit guidance for businesses and we have seen a sharp increase in page visits. This shows just how concerned residents and businesses are about the potential impacts on their organisations and our local economy. One thing we can be confident about is that any adverse outcomes will be minimised if all of our small business owners take the time to understand and plan for changes to come.

East Devon District Council’s Economic Development service will continue to ensure information most useful to its business base is updated on the East Devon website.