What is the Customs Training and IT Grant?
From early December 2018, customs intermediaries and traders who complete, or intend to complete customs declarations can apply for funding for training and IT. An investment of £5 million has been set aside for these grants to help increase capacity in preparation for the UK leaving the EU. We would encourage businesses to apply early. The application deadline has been extended and the scheme will now close on 31 May 2019 (register by 24 May to make sure you meet the application deadline), or earlier once all the funding is allocated. Applications for the training grant are particularly welcome.
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 extensively 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.
Based on this useful engagement, in September HM Treasury and HMRC announced a one-off investment of £8 million to support broker training and increased automation.
As part of this investment, funding of £5 million has been set aside for grants to help meet the upfront costs of employee training and IT improvements.
HMRC has also engaged with the training sector 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.
How can your business benefit?
The Customs Intermediaries Grant Scheme is designed to help your business build capacity and improve efficiency in completing customs declarations. We can provide funding towards the upfront costs of training your staff and investing in your IT to improve efficiency provided you meet certain eligibility criteria.
Each business will have different needs and may be able to apply for one or both grants but must meet certain requirements depending on which grant they apply for. The training grants are available to customs intermediaries and traders, and the IT grants are available for existing customs intermediaries only.
Funding of £5 million has been set aside for grants to help meet the upfront costs of employee training and IT improvements:
• £2 million is available for training grants for any business completing customs declarations (or intending to complete customs declarations in the future)
• £3 million is available for IT improvement grants for customs intermediaries who complete customs declarations on behalf of importers and exporters, and who are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (less than 250 employees and annual turnover less than EUR 50 million)
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have been appointed on behalf of HMRC to administer the customs intermediaries’ grants. Our role is to manage the grant process on a day-to-day basis with oversight of HMRC to achieve the objectives of the grants. The application deadline has been extended and the scheme will now close on 31 May 2019, or earlier once all the funding is allocated.
What is a customs intermediary?
Customs intermediaries are any company or sole trader that helps other businesses move goods from A to B and comply with international trade and customs formalities. Customs agents typically provide services that involve handling all necessary customs paperwork and making declarations. Some companies offer the full package of services, where they will handle the paperwork and other customs formalities, as well as transporting the goods.
Examples of customs intermediaries include:
• Customs brokers who submit declarations on behalf of traders;
• Hauliers and shipping companies who transport cargo over land and sea;
• Freight forwarders who manage the import/export process on behalf of other traders, often contracting out individual hauliers and brokers;
• Fast parcel operators who offer an end to end service themselves and mainly deal with small, time-sensitive consignments.
How do I apply?
To find out more about how to apply follow this link: How to apply for the Customs Training and IT Grants Scheme.