£16m ‘Brexit boost’ to fund thousands more customs agents
3 Sep 2019
Government sets aside more funding to help businesses train staff to handle customs regulations after the UK leaves the EU, but business urged to apply early before funds run out
3 Sep 2019
HMRC has announced an extra £16m funding for businesses that will need to train staff to make customs declarations, and to help businesses that support others to trade goods to invest in IT.
This comes on top of an initial £8m that was allocated to train customs agents in December 2018.
Businesses based in, or with a branch in, the UK can apply for funding ahead of the UK leaving the EU. The grants can be used to support training costs for businesses who complete customs declarations, or who intend to do so in the future.
Grants can also be used to fund IT improvement. These are available to small and medium sized employers who are currently involved in trade as an intermediary.
The customs intermediaries market consists of a wide range of third-party firms that facilitate the import/export process, helping businesses to move goods and to comply with customs formalities. These agents currently help businesses who trade outside the EU, so the funding will help increase the capacity of the sector as businesses trading with the EU consider whether to get an expert to complete customs documentation for them after Brexit.
More than 3,000 agents have already been trained as part of an £8m investment earlier this year, which has also been used to develop new online learning products for customs staff such as an electronic learning package and a new UK Customs Academy.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman MP said: ‘Brexit takes place on 31 October and we urge all businesses to make the necessary preparations to be fully ready. The government has doubled the support available, so that thousands more customs experts are on hand to help businesses on and after Brexit day.’
HMRC is urging businesses who would benefit from the funding to apply early before the funds run out. Those who applied for the first wave may apply again as part of this new wave of grants for expenditure incurred on or after 31 July 2019.
Applications will close on 31 January 2020, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.
By Philip Smith