A government press release on 4th December has just announced an £8 million funding scheme for customs intermediaries and traders, which could mean more business investing in a fit for purpose freight brokering system or freight management software, smoothing supply chains in trade. Applications for government support are now being taken.
The HM Treasury and HMRC grants are being made available for IT improvements and training in the industry, we assume to reduce trade obstacles ahead of the UK leaving the E.U.
A ‘customs intermediary’ is any businesses or sole trader that is obliged to complete customs declarations; eligible organisations therefore include:
- customs brokers
- freight forwarder companies
- fast parcel operators.
Of course, eligible bodies will have to meet particular requirements to qualify for government support, according to the specific grant they apply for. In particular, grant applicants must be based in, or have a branch in the UK.
If your company completes customs declarations, government grants will support investing in IT systems that will make your administration more efficient. To maximise effectiveness of any new freight management system software, the costs of staff training can also be covered by the government’s £8 million investment fund.
This grant initiative is the product of government officials consulting widely with industry professionals and “…key providers of customs broker services – including freight forwarders, fast parcel operators and independent customs brokers…”. This now means that government departments are in a stronger position to understand the challenges our industry faces and our clients are now able to benefit more easily from investing faster in off the shelf freight management software packages. This will in turn benefit their existing and new clients, increasing transparency, speed of transactions and much more. Bespoke packages cannot be accommodated by this funding, but Logistician will help businesses use this financial support to improve the productivity within the criteria.
The £8 million government supports brokerage agency training and enhanced automation of freight systems to increase sector capacity ahead of the Brexit deadline of 29 March 2019 – assuming this goes ahead as expected. Of the total grant funding available to import and export companies, £3m will be allocated to training provision.
HMRC and the Treasury have worked with training providers to extend availability of relevant training courses in the short term, while new courses are being developed. It is expected that training coming on stream will support customs broker training to cope with anticipated rising demand.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said:
“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 to PwC, who are administering grant applications for support to develop IT infrastructure, training or both, specifically:
- £2 million is available for 50% of the cost of training for intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations.
- £3 million is available for IT improvement for small and medium sized businesses in the customs intermediaries sector (i.e. freight broker companies) who manage customs declarations on behalf of importers and exporters. In particular, funding is weighted towards automation and productivity tools for completing customs declarations.
The online application page is available here on GOV.UK. Please contact Logistician directly to find out how our freight management software meets government criteria and how it could transform your efficiency and productivity to future proof you for coming trading arrangements.