Government steps up preparations to help businesses deal with Brexit
By James Young | 21st August 2019
Preparations for Brexit's impact on business are being stepped up with the chancellor of the exchequer announcing companies will be automatically enrolled into an important customs system.
More than 88,000 VAT registered companies across the UK will be allocated an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number in the next two weeks.
An EORI will allow firms to keep trading with customers and suppliers in the Europe after the UK has left the EU.
If businesses do not have an EORI number post-Brexit they have been warned that they will be unable to continue to trade with EU member states.
The chancellor, Sajid Javid, said: "As the government accelerates its preparation to leave the EU on 31st October, it's right businesses are prepared too.
"There can be no time for delay which is why HMRC has allocated thousands of businesses with a trading number to ensure they can continue to trade their goods through Europe from day one.
"This will help ease the flow of goods at border points and support businesses to trade and grow."
The announcement has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Business, although with a not of caution about the dangers to its members if there is no deal struck before October 31.
Mike Cherry, national chair of the FSB said: "If the nightmare of a chaotic no deal Brexit on 31 October becomes a reality, our small traders will the first ones off the cliff.
"Overnight, small business exporters will have to contend with growth sapping tariffs and time-consuming customs declarations.
"These businesses are the ones that need to prepare the most, so it is welcome to see the Government has listened to us and is taking concrete action.
"Automatically issuing EORI numbers to all VAT-registered small firms that trade exclusively with the EU is a vital intervention in preparing small traders for a no deal Brexit and will be one less thing for them to worry about.
"It will also allow small business importers to the EU to take advantage of easements such as transitional simplified procedures.
"Focus must now move on to what other support Government can offer to small businesses including those small businesses exclusively trading with the EU that are below the VAT register.
"Small business need an Emergency Budget before 31 October with across the board measures to boost cash flow and help small business prepare, and adapt, to any new trading circumstances from 1 November."
While the chancellor has not committed to an emergency budget, the Treasury say that he is "determined to grip Brexit preparations.
A fund of £2.1billion was allocated for government departments last month to prepare for no deal, doubling Brexit funding for the year.
As part of that cash injection, border and customs operations will receive an addition £344 million in order to be ready for Brexit.
That money will be used to hire more border officers, doubling the support available to customs agents and improving transport infrastructure around ports.
Information is also available for non VAT-registered companies who need to register for an EORI number on the HMRC website.
After receiving their EORI, each business will need to decide whether to complete customs declarations themselves or employ a customs agent to do it for them.
They will also need to decide whether to apply for Transitional Simplified Procedures to make it easier to import goods from the EU, with information available on the HMRC website.
Letters to businesses containing their assigned EORI number will arrive within two weeks.
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