Government positive about small business Brexit transition voucher

Michael Gove says Brexit transition voucher idea will be looked into and requires ‘intense discussions’

Michael Gove has responded positively to the concept of a Brexit transition voucher to help small businesses get through Brexit.

The Cabinet Office minister, who is in charge of Brexit preparations, has said the concept of a Brexit transition voucher for small businesses which need to buy new equipment or pay for services would be looked at and required “intense conversations”.

Federation of Small Businesses, which posed the question about a Brexit transition voucher to Mr Gove, has long supported such a scheme. Last month FSB chairman Mike Cherry described transition vouchers as “a sensible way forward” – set sums which could be spent on expertise, tech and training.

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Last month FSB national chairman Mike Cherry 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.”

The Cabinet Office minister was speaking yesterday during a conference call with 250 company leaders and business groups.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also on the call and reportedly made positive noises about help for small businesses.

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Discussion of a Brexit transition voucher was one ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy call that business leaders felt was just box ticking, so government could say it had spoken to business about a possible no-deal Brexit.

Once source described the call to the Telegraph as “anodyne” and another said it was “shocking, embarrassing and not constructive”, amid growing fears that the government will try to blame any disruption to trade on business’ failure to prepare.

Afterwards one of those who had been on the call told the Times that Mr Johnson had been “perfunctory” and another said Mr Johnson’s comments had amounted to nothing more than “bluff and bluster” and that he had shown no sign of being across the detail of necessary changes.

Mr Johnson spoke for 10 minutes before leaving in what one participant described as a “disrespectful” move, acting out his lack of interest in business.

Further reading

Getting ready for Brexit – 6 steps you need to take to prepare

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...