grandeduc - Fotolia

Major border disruption on the horizon as Brexit IT portfolio becomes ‘unmanageable’

The proliferation of new platforms and work behind schedule is among the list of concerns cited in a leaked memo

The government is scrambling to avoid the risk of major border disruption as work on a plethora of IT systems needed to support trade post-Brexit falls behind schedule.

A Cabinet Office memo seen by Bloomberg cites “critical gaps” in the preparation for the technology to be used by haulage firms and freight forwarders after the transition period after the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) finishes at the end of the year.

The document also mentions that out of the 10 new systems being developed to support Brexit at present, at least three are currently being designed. “This is completely unnecessary and unmanageable with duplication and overlap,” said the memo circulated by the Border and Protocol Delivery Group.

To manage the customs declarations needed to ensure the freight of goods such as food and medicines, the government is building the Smart Freight Service, a web-based application that operators will need to use to know if they have the required paperwork and are able to enter the channel ports.

However, with four months to go until the Brexit transition period expires, the freight industry is growing increasingly concerned that the companies won’t have enough time to train staff on how to use the new system.

According to the leaked memo, the Northern Ireland situation is also worrying, as there is no operating protocol for customs or information on the location of inland checking points and even which systems particular ports will be using. In August 2020, the government announced it was pumping £200m into a Trader Support Service and £155m to develop technology to support traders in the NI border.

In July 2020, the government announced HMRC would get more than £100m for border IT systems. The funding was intended to improve systems to “reduce the burden on traders” and “ensure that new controls can be fully implemented a “roll on, roll off environment” at the border, creating a seamless experience.

Read more about Brexit IT

That same month, a consultation was launched to gather views on how digital approaches can improve trader and traveller demands by 2025. Ideas gathered through the consultation will inform a full UK border strategy to be published by the end of 2020.

Before the funding for new systems was announced in July, it emerged that HMRC hadn’t started the development of the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) IT system, which is intended to allow trucks to declare goods ahead of reaching the border. At the time, the Port of Dover’s head of EU exit proposed just licensing the French IT system instead.

Content Continues Below

Read more on IT for government and public sector

Join the conversation

2 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

And the problem is compounded by the mess with regard to IR35 which prevent Departments from using the "families" of freelance consultants (including retired officials and those taking career breaks) who used to be available to help them handle overload situations without using those consultants with no knowledge of the department or context from big outsource contractors with framework contracts.
Cancel
This has been obvious for years. I blogged on this in 2016. See 
Cancel

SearchCIO

SearchSecurity

SearchNetworking

SearchDataCenter

SearchDataManagement

Close