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FSB has called EORI auto-enrolment a win for smaller traders preparing for a no deal Brexit.
The government has announced it will be automatically issuing UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers to VAT registered businesses that trade exclusively with the EU.
More than 88,000 VAT registered companies across the UK will be allocated an EORI number in the next two weeks in order to keep trading with customers and suppliers in the EU after the UK has left, the Chancellor said.
HMRC had previously pushed for businesses to apply for their EORI number, but recent data has shown that of the 250,000 businesses identified as needing to apply for EORI numbers, only around 72,000 had taken the step to do so.
EORI numbers are a unique ID number allocated to businesses that enables them to be identified by customs authorities when doing business with other traders.
"As the government accelerates its preparation to leave the EU on 31st October, it’s right businesses are prepared too," said Sajid Javid.
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) chairman Mike Cherry applauded the government's decision, expressing concern that if a no deal Brexit becomes a reality, "small traders will be the first ones off the cliff".
Overnight, small business exporters will have to contend with growth sapping tariffs and time consuming customs declarations.
“These businesses are the ones that need to prepare the most, so it is welcome to see the government has listened to us and is taking concrete action," Mr Cherry said.
According to him, automatically issuing EORI numbers to all VAT-registered small firms that trade exclusively with the EU is a vital intervention in preparing small traders for a no deal Brexit and will be one less thing for them to worry about. It will also allow small business importers to the EU to take advantage of easements such as transitional simplified procedures.
“Focus must now move on to what other support government can offer to small businesses including those small businesses exclusively trading with the EU that are below the VAT register threshold."
Mr Cherry reiterated that small business need an emergency budget before 31 October with across the board measures to boost cash flow and help small business prepare, and adapt, to any new trading circumstances from 1 November.