The government recognises the challenges facing the customs intermediaries sector in supporting existing and new clients when the UK leaves the EU. It has engaged with industry bodies and key providers of customs broker services – including freight forwarders, fast parcel operators and independent customs brokers – to better understand this challenge.
In response, the government has announced the Customs Intermediaries Grant Scheme. It has been designed to help businesses build capacity and improve efficiency in completing customs declarations. Funding is available towards the upfront costs of training staff and investing in IT to improve efficiency.
A total of £5 million has been set aside, to be delivered through the following grant strands:
- £2 million for training grants for any business completing customs declarations (or intending to complete customs declarations in the future).
- £3 million for IT improvement grants for customs intermediaries who complete customs declarations on behalf of importers and exporters, and that are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 250 employees and annual turnover under €50 million).
Businesses may have different needs and, therefore, may be able to apply for one or both grants but must meet certain requirements depending on which one they apply for. The training grants are available to customs intermediaries and traders, and the IT grants are available for existing customs intermediaries only.
Launching the programme, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said:
"Following extensive engagement with the customs intermediaries’ sector, we have listened to their concerns about how they will satisfy the extra demand for customs broker services.
"I’m really pleased we are investing [millions of pounds] to support the sector and help them expand their capacity as we prepare to leave the EU on 29 March 2019."
The deadline for applications to be received is 5 April 2019. Interested parties should apply at their earliest opportunity as funds may be fully allocated before this planned deadline.
More information about this funding opportunity and the application process is available on the GRANTfinder funding information platform. GRANTfinder provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on funding news and policy. To find out more about how GRANTfinder can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.