HMRC is offering funding to certain businesses involved in declaring imports and exports, in order to help them prepare for Brexit.
It should be noted that if a deal is achieved, it is likely that there will be no change to the way UK businesses currently buy and sell goods within the EU, at least until 29 March 2021.
In the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, UK businesses buying and selling goods within the EU will have to complete customs import and export declarations. This does not include the movement of goods across the Republic of Ireland-United Kingdom border, and HMRC will release guidance on the arrangements for trading with Ireland at a later date.
Businesses may outsource the completion of customs declarations to a freight forwarder or customs agent or they may prefer to keep it in-house. To help with this transition, UK businesses involved in the completion of customs declarations, can apply for two grants: one to fund training to help employees complete customs declarations, and another to fund IT improvements, to help businesses complete customs declarations.
Affected businesses will have to identify training and software needs and make the necessary arrangements. Quotes for the cost of the training, new software and any associated costs must be included in each application. PwC is administering the grants for HMRC and, if the application is successful, businesses will receive a grant offer letter. Funding will be paid after training and IT improvements have been made.
There are limits to the amounts of funding available, particularly for the training grants, and this depends on the number of people that the business employs. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees receive more funding than larger businesses. IT improvements grants are capped at €200,000, which is the maximum amount of state aid available. However, funding for IT improvements is not available to businesses employing more than 250 people, or businesses with a turnover of €50 million or more.
HMRC has provided guidance about the grants process, which can be found here. It is important to apply early as applications will close on 5 April 2019, or earlier, once all funding is allocated. If you would like any advice about the funding process or assistance with your grant application, then please get in touch.