UK forwarders welcome funding for Brexit customs declaration training

Robert Keen, BIFA director general

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has welcomed the recent news of an £8m  government funding scheme for customs intermediaries and traders.

Grants have been made available for all customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations. The aim of the grants is to support training and the upgrade of IT systems.

The scheme is intended to help support the extra demand for customs brokerage services associated with the UK’s departure from the EU, as well as issues associated with the replacement of the current system used to process customs entries.

Robert Keen, director general of BIFA said: “During our meetings with both HM Treasury and HMRC, BIFA highlighted the concerns of our members regarding the capability of the Customs brokerage sector to increase capacity, at a time when that sector already faces a shortage of staff of suitable quality.

“We emphasised that it could take up to a year to train staff to be fully conversant to prepare a range of basic Customs declarations, even if there was a sufficient number of trainers to train those staff, as well as relevant courses for them to attend. So, the news of this funding is very welcome."

The grant includes HMRC providing an investment of £3m to fund increasing training capacity.

BIFA also notes that the grants include £2m to fund training for intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations (or intending to complete customs declarations in the future).
The grant will provide funding for up to 50% of the cost of training staff.

There is also £3m available in IT improvement funding, available to small and medium sized employers in the customs intermediaries sector currently completing customs declarations on behalf of importers and exporters.
The grant will fund investment in packaged software that increases the automation and productivity of completing customs declarations.

Applications for funding will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.

More information and grant applications can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/grants-for-businesses-that-complete-customs-declarations

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