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Government urges industry groups to prepare businesses for no-deal Brexit

Michael Gove
Mr Gove pressed for ideas on how to minimise the effects of a hard Brexit on October 31 

The Government has asked industry groups to come up with “creative and practical” ways to help businesses prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

It has also invited them to bid for funding to help tell companies how to brace for the impact of the UK crashing out of the European Union without a trade agreement.

The appeal follows a meeting between trade bodies and Michael Gove, who has been tasked with overseeing no-deal planning throughout Whitehall. Mr Gove pressed for ideas on how to minimise the effects of a hard Brexit on October 31 , according to those in attendance. 

The initiative highlights growing worries within the Government that businesses - especially smaller companies - are not ready.

An official document seen by The Daily Telegraph reveals the existence of “EU Exit Business Readiness Grants”. Industry associations have been told to bid for money to fund their ideas by next week in order to enact them from September.

In July, the Government said £108m had been made available to help companies prepare for a no-deal Brexit. However, business leaders briefed on the plan say that it remains unclear whether there is actually more or less money than this available. 

“It’s very late in the day and it’s hard to see what can be done,” said one person aware of the scheme. “Anything to help is good but what's not helping is ministers’ public message that ‘no deal will be alright’ - there’s a lot of tension.”

Early suggestions are understood to include webinars designed to instruct companies on how to prepare.

However, another person who has seen the documents said: “There’s really not a lot much we can do beyond push out our guidance - it’s very hard to connect with small business members.”