Businesses should be given Brexit planning vouchers worth up to £3,000 to pay for legal and professional advice ahead of the UK’s split from the EU, according to the Institute of Directors.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) called on the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to announce the scheme in his upcoming Budget as a new survey revealed directors’ confidence in the economy has fallen steadily over the past six months hit by Brexit fears.
The IoD said the UK’s uncertain trading status with the EU had become the leading concern for the first time in 2018 and that directors were now requesting help to prepare for leaving the EU.
Under the IoD’s proposed scheme, small and medium-sized businesses could submit online applications for immediately redeemable vouchers to purchase legal and professional advice in order to be as prepared as possible for Brexit, whatever the outcome of negotiations. The scheme would be in place for the duration of any transition or adjustment period.
Read more about the impact of Brexit on small UK businesses:
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- Why aren’t small business owners planning for a “chaotic” no-deal Brexit?
- What we can expect from HMRC before Brexit
Over half of IoD members said they would be likely to take advantage of financial support to help with their preparations. A grant of between £2,000 and £3,000 based on the InterTrade Ireland and Enterprise Ireland rebates could be spent on Brexit-related advisory services from approved suppliers.
“A Brexit voucher system would help smooth over the inevitably difficult adjustment period firms will face over the coming months and years,” said Stephen Martin, director-general of the IoD.
“More government guidance and advice would be welcome, but for smaller firms in particular, the need is for help to work out their individual exposure to changes that come with Brexit, and the specific measures they can take to adjust.”
The survey also revealed that business leaders’ investment outlook was at its lowest point in over a year with the IoD calling for the chancellor to drive productivity growth through investment incentives and skill initiatives.
These include creating a new Enhanced Capital Allowance for “best practice” technologies such as data analytics and cloud computing to support productivity growth in SMEs and the removal of the Immigration Skills Charge.
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