Customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations can now apply for grants to support training and IT under a £8 million investment from government, as applications open today (4 December).
The government has engaged extensively with industry bodies and key providers of customs broker services – including freight forwarders, fast parcel operators and independent customs brokers – to better understand the challenges they face in supporting existing and new clients.
Based on this useful engagement, HM Treasury and HMRC announced a one-off investment of £8 million to support broker training and increased automation in September, which will help increase capacity of the sector ahead of March 2019.
This includes £3m HMRC is investing to increase training provision in this area. They have worked with learning service provider Knowledge Pool who are engaging with training providers to increase the number of courses available in the short term, as well as investing in the development of new courses which will be available over the coming months to support customs broker training.
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 £8m to support the sector and help them expand their capacity as we prepare to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.
“As part of this investment, £5 million in funding is now available to help businesses, based in, or with a branch in, the UK to meet the costs of employee training and IT improvements. Businesses who will benefit from the funding are encouraged to apply early. Applications will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.”
Businesses can apply for one or both grants:
• There is £2 million available 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 £3 million 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.
PwC is administering the grants on behalf of HMRC as an accredited grant administrator. Businesses who wish to apply for funding should not contact HMRC and can apply on online. More information, and a link to the online application page are available on GOV.UK.