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Gloucestershire Business News

Government urged to issue Brexit vouchers for small businesses

Small firms already fighting the impact of coronavirus need financial help to prepare for life after Brexit, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

Trade talks between the UK and EU were reopening today amid controversy over government plans to Northern Ireland customs arrangements in last year's withdrawal agreement.

The Government said the move was a standby measure in case trade talks fail with Prime Minister

Boris Johnson poised to place an October 15 deadline on negotiations.

Although the UK left the EU in January, it has remained in a transition period to enable negotiations over a long-term trade agreement.

But that period comes to an end in December and the FSB national chairman Mike Cherry has warned that small firms "have no clear sense of what they'll be transitioning to".

He said: "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.

"Negotiators need to agree a small business-friendly deal, and swiftly. Concerningly - unlike all other major UK Free Trade Agreements - the draft terms of the EU deal don't contain a dedicated small business chapter outlining how it will benefit firms of all sizes.

"We urgently need progress on this front."

And he called for urgent help for small businesses already stretched by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "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.

"If the Government wants firms to take preparatory action over the next few months, it needs to help them to do so.

"Business minds are, understandably, still very much focused on coronavirus."

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