The idea of Brexit vouchers has been floated by the Institute of Directors to help SMEs pay for legal and professional advice as businesses plan for life after the UK leaves the European Union.
Two years on from the EU referendum, the Brexit waters are still cloudy. Nobody can see what lies ahead for the UK government, the country’s businesses and its people.
The media push messages of doom and gloom alongside independence and exciting new trade deals in equal measures. Ultimately, we’re all in the dark and waiting on news of an actual deal – whatever form that might take.
The general consensus from industry leaders is that UK businesses need help to prepare for what might materialise in mid-2019.
Brexit support for SMEs
The Institute of Directors (IoD) wants action now. They quite rightly acknowledge that small and medium-sized businesses need assistance as the UK heads for potentially challenging times.
Engaging consultants, accountants and solicitors all costs money. The multi-nationals have large departments to prepare for life after divorce. The rest have to juggle budgets and hope that employees don’t mind wearing a few extra hats.
The call for up to £3,000 worth of vouchers to fund planning and legal costs associated with Brexit fallout comes after an IoD survey highlighted that business confidence has fallen sharply this year.
At the start of 2018 there was optimism as UK-EU negotiators appeared to make progress. But increased frustrations and the recent stand-offs during talks have seen UK directors’ confidence in the overall economy dip to its lowest point in 2018.
And although many directors remain positive about their own organisations, the level of confidence has also dipped well below year highs (see all figures here).
How could SMEs access Brexit vouchers?
The IoD fired its call for financial support directly at chancellor Philip Hammond. They want him to issue a clear message in the forthcoming budget that the government is backing SMEs.
The proposals for support could see small and medium-sized businesses submitting online applications for vouchers that could be redeemed against legal and professional advice.
The voucher scheme would last for the duration of any transition or adjustment period following the agreed UK exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.
In theory, access to the vouchers should be straightforward. There would also be multiple knock-on benefits for the UK economy.
Professional services would be engaged by many of the 5.7m private businesses in the UK. There would be increased confidence in planning, investing in new technologies, and driving forward with apprentice and skills initiatives.
One thing is clear: any support framework should be established as soon as possible.
With less than six months until the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, small and medium-sized businesses need to prepare for future trading arrangements – whether a transition period is agreed or not.
Only then can we see confidence restored, bold investment decisions taken and more high-quality jobs created.
If you’d like a conversation about your business then feel free to contact me, happy to advise and there’s no obligation,
Sandra – firstname.lastname@example.org