Friday, 19 January, 2018

United Kingdom faces 'catastrophic' border chaos if customs are not fixed before Brexit

Operation Stack Continues To Cause Traffic Problems Throughout Kent Food could be left rotting if the customs system isn't fully deployed by March 2019
Bennie Garza | 15 November, 2017, 04:39

But the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is not prepared to allow HMRC to use Brexit as an excuse for any problems in replacing its long-standing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system with its new Customs Declaration System (CDS).

She said HMRC needed a relatively small sum to upgrade the current system but had been told by HMRC it was merely "in conversation" over upgrade costs.

"HMRC and wider government need to make CDS one of their top priorities to ensure successful delivery", it said.

It is calling on the government to increase funding to ensure that HMRC's new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) is scaled up to handling the necessary 255 million declarations before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in 2019.

"It is clear that there will be many problems if the new customs system is not in place and functioning efficiently by the scheduled date that the United Kingdom is set to leave the European single market and the Customs Union in March 2019".

The influential all-party Public Accounts Committee has warned that if the new Customs Declaration Service planned to be brought in is delayed, it would result in food rotting in trucks at the border and serious congestion.

"Only four per cent of United Kingdom firms making customs declarations are "trusted traders", with less red tape on the movement of goods, far below the numbers in Germany".

Lorry-loads of food will rot in traffic jams at the United Kingdom border after Brexit and hundreds of millions of shipments of other goods could be stranded in queues, if HM Revenue and Customs does not get the money it needs to beef up its declarations systems. This is a tight timetable at the best of times.

The PAC warned the Treasury that it needs to ensure there is funding in place to develop contingency options so that there are no barriers to continuity of service.

HMRC maintains that the CDS programme is on track and is well governed, but it admits that major risks remain, which means that CDS might not be fully operating by the planned date of January 2019.

'Much remains to be done to have an effective Customs Declaration Service in place, on time, and that traders know how to use'.

It also said the government should aim to increase the number of "trusted traders" who are allowed to use simplified arrangements, which is now just 604 - a 10th of the number with such status in Germany.

"We've already allocated over £0.5bn in funding to ensure a successful exit from the European Union, and we will have a fully functioning United Kingdom customs service on day one post-Brexit", he said.

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