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Government to invest £8m in Brexit customs training and automation

The Treasury and HMRC are putting measures in place to support the customs sector should the UK leave the EU with no deal, including funding to increase automation and training

The government has announced plans to improve training and increase automation to help the customs sector cope if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Under the plans, the Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are investing £8m to ensure customs intermediaries are prepared, should the UK leave the European Union (EU) without a deal. 

This includes a grant scheme to support automation investment in the customs sector, where needing investment upfront is often a major barrier, particularly for smaller businesses.

The funding will help smaller companies that currently rely on manual data inputs to complete customs declarations, with the set-up costs of implementing automation software.

Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said the government has been engaging with brokers, freight forwarders and fast parcel operators in the customs sector.

“We have listened to their concerns about the extra demand for customs broker services in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal in March 2019,” he said.

“That is why we plan to invest £8m for customs training and automation to support the sector to expand to help meet the potential increase in demand for this scenario.”

The funding package also includes establishing a procurement process for training providers to create and deliver training courses for customs brokers on what to do in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as well as a grant scheme to help intermediaries and traders with upfront training costs.

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The government is increasingly preparing for the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal. It has already issued a range of contingency planning notices which show that such a scenario could cause upheaval across the UK economy

It would also mean a full third-country customs regime with the EU. For businesses exporting goods, and parallel imports, there would also be significant changes because exports would not fall under the European Economic Area (EEA) exhaustion scheme, which covers IP rights. 

“Goods placed on the UK market by, or with the consent of, the right holder after the UK has exited the EU will not, however, be considered exhausted in the EEA,” the government’s planning notice said. This could lead to extra costs for UK businesses.

According to the Institute for Government (IfG), Whitehall has left its no-deal planning too late, and businesses and government will not be ready if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

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