Government must fund expansion of Customs system, say MPs

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Brexit could lead to a five-fold increase in the number of customs declarations that HMRC must process – from 55 million in 2015 to 255 million, according to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

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 UK leaves the European Union in 2019.

In its report, Brexit and the future of Customs, the committee also warned that HMRC is managing an unsustainable amount of change with 15 programmes and 250 projects in its transformation portfolio. It argues that HMRC must prioritise CDS to ensure a successful delivery.

The committee’s findings have been backed by the British International Freight Association.

Director general, Robert Keen said: “We share the Committee’s concern that HMRC does not yet have the necessary funding and resources to produce the infrastructure that will be required to facilitate Customs processes post-Brexit.

“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 UK is set to leave the European single market and the Customs Union in March 2019.

“Any failure in the new Customs system would most likely lead to huge disruption for businesses, with significant delays at ports and airports of entry.”

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