This is why the Government should introduce export vouchers for small firms, says the FSB

A European Union flag in front of Big Ben, as Remain supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the EU in the wake of Brexit.
A European Union flag in front of Big Ben, as Remain supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the EU in the wake of Brexit.
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The Government is being urged to help small business export by introducing a voucher scheme worth £3,000 ahead of Brexit.

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has called on the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Treasury to introduce ‘Export Vouchers’.

The�Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry.

The�Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Mike Cherry.

It would help small firms with a range of costs from investments in translation services and additional market research to finding new clients through overseas trade fairs, the FSB says.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: “Exporting is a critical part of the British economy, especially to small firms hoping to expand and grow their businesses.

“But in order to succeed, it’s time that the Government stepped in and gave small firms the help that they need in order to realise their exporting ambitions.

“The introduction of export vouchers up to the value of £3,000 will alleviate some of the strains that exporting firms are facing at the current time.”

The Government at this stage has no plans to launch an export voucher scheme.

A Government spokeswoman said: “We want businesses of all sizes to make the most of the fantastic opportunities offered through exporting.

“That’s why we continue to work with agencies and trade associations to ensure businesses are ready to trade as we approach October 31.

“Our network of International Trade Advisors and experts from across the globe are supporting the UK’s SMEs to export to new markets.

“We are also making up to £15m available through the ‘Brexit Readiness Fund’ to help business groups and trade associations get ready for Brexit, and are running a series of workshops to ensure businesses get the advice they need to ensure they are ready to continue trading with minimal disruption.”

Currently, 21 per cent of small firms are exporting according to the FSB.

The organisation’s research also showed that the potentially positive impact of the depreciation in the value of the pound on exporters has been offset by the volatility in sterling and the uncertainty created as a result of the current failure to secure a Brexit deal.

Mr Cherry said: “Small businesses are being made to wait for the updated publication of the Government’s revised UK tariff schedule that would apply in the event of a no deal Brexit scenario, which must be published as a matter of urgency.

“This will allow smaller businesses to understand the terms on which they may be trading with the EU and indeed the rest of the world from October 31, in the event of a no deal scenario.

“The continued uncertainty is harming small firms ability to plan and prepare for the future with 40 per cent of small business exporters saying that the uncertainty has had a negative impact on their future exporting ambitions.”

Over half, 53 per cent of smaller business exporters to the EU believe their business continuity and growth will be negatively impacted by a no deal on October 31.

The FSB added that of those smaller businesses that export who have prepared for a no deal scenario, the average cost of preparations is £2,880, rising to around £3,000 for those smaller businesses that import and or export.

“Around 21 per cent of small firms currently export, but with additional assistance from the Government, FSB believes that those numbers could double,” Mr Cherry said.