A report by the National Audit Office, released on the evening of Wednesday 27th February 2019 to the public accounts committee, has indicated that six out of eight critical IT systems for managing the UK’s border in a ‘no deal’ Brexit are not ready.
The report examined systems at the border across government departments including HMRC, Defra, the Foods Standards Agency and the Department for International Trade. The Guardian reports that one of the systems – the Automatic License Verification System for allowing the importation of live animals, animal products, plants and horticultural products – has actually deteriorated since last September.
The National Audit Office also analysed the business community’s general readiness for trading in the event of a no-deal, giving it a ‘red-rated’ level of risk.
The report said:
“A survey of external readiness commissioned by government in December 2018 found that 31% of businesses cited lack of knowledge as a barrier preventing preparedness, and that 50% of small businesses were yet to take action to prepare for no deal”.
Government preparations are ongoing
A government spokesperson is quoted by The Guardian as saying that ‘real progress’ had been made in the preparations at the borders for a no deal Brexit. They said:
“The necessary resources we need to keep the border secure will be in place, including an additional 900 Border Force officers by March 2019, and we’ve been communicating extensively with businesses about the steps they need to take to prepare.
“We have also taken steps to minimise disruption through phasing in certain checks required at the border and continuing to apply the risk-based approach to customs checks we use today.”
The government has, indeed, been providing £2m worth of grant funding for the implementation of IT systems or training in the skills required for completing customs declarations and other customs processes in the event of a no deal Brexit. However, applications for the grants will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.
Many of the Institute’s training courses can be funded by these grants, including our Customs Procedures and Documentation Course. This course covers everything that you will need to know to enable goods to be imported and exported post Brexit.
Training: Customs Procedures & Documentation