The government today has announced a new fund of £50m to succeed its existing grant funding for UK companies to help train staff in customs skills and pay for IT upgrades.
The fund would “boost the capacity of the customs intermediary sector - including customs brokers, freight forwarders and express parcel operators - providing businesses with further support ahead of the new processes taking effect in July 2021,” the government said today.
Details of the fund came with news of a phased implementation of border controls for EU goods imported into Great Britain to give businesses affected by coronavirus more time to prepare.
The £50m fund, welcomed by the Institute of Export & International Trade, is seen as vital to prepare UK businesses to make customs declarations when the Brexit transition period ends.
Earlier today Cabinet minister Michael Gove categorically ruled out seeking an extension to that transition period at a meeting of the EU Joint Committee.
The IOE&IT has campaigned for more HMRC funding for customs training and that such finance be extended to individuals as well as companies.
This training is available through the online UK Customs Academy, which the Institute runs on behalf of HMRC, as well as its own customs training courses.
The grant allows companies to claim back fees from HMRC for courses completed by their staff.
“We’re delighted our voice has been heard on the issue of additional grant funding to train new customs professionals,” said Marco Forgione, director general of the IOE&IT.
However, he expressed disappointment that the government has not heeded the IOE&IT’s call to make the grant funding available to individuals.
“It takes up to 200 hours of training to become a competent customs professional, while at the same time it is anticipated that 50,000 new customs professionals will be needed when the transition period ends," Forgione said.
“The UK economy shrunk by 20% in April and more than two million people are currently unemployed.
“All those currently out of work or at risk of losing their jobs could start training now for a valuable career, which is in the national interest.”
How to apply
Find out more about the courses covered by the HMRC grant and how to apply here.
The original HMRC customs training fund was initially launched in September 2019, when the government made £16m available to help businesses skill up staff to make customs declarations and to help businesses that support others to trade goods to invest in IT.