Act now to apply for Brexit preparation funding

20th December 2018

HMRC has announced that businesses can apply for a grant to help fund training and IT improvements for those that are involved/or will be involved in the completion and submission of Customs Declarations, as part of the preparations for the UK leaving the European Union.

This is particularly important if your business has only ever traded with suppliers/customers in the EU. Post Brexit, it is expected that trade with the EU will be treated in same way as trade with the rest of the world, which for many will mean adhering to new trading procedures and regulations. Businesses that will have to complete customs declarations for the first time may need to source additional training and or invest in IT improvements.

HMRC has set aside £8 million worth of funding that businesses can apply for to help with these preparations, but you need to act fast. Grants will be awarded on a first come first served basis and there is a finite amount of money to go around.

What can the funding cover?

Funding can be applied for to cover training that helps employees to complete customers declaration and processes; and/or IT improvements to help your business complete customs declarations more efficiently.

Who can apply for a grant?

Businesses established in, or with a branch in the UK, that complete customs declarations can apply. This includes customs brokers, freight forwarders and fast parcel operators. Your business has to meet certain requirements, depending on which grant you want to apply for.

Training grants:

To apply for the training grant, your business must either:

  •  complete customs declarations for yourself or someone else (or intend to in the future)
  •  import from, or export to the EU and complete customs declarations (or intend to complete customs declarations in the future)

The training does not have to lead to a formal qualification but must give your employees skills to:

If you want to arrange the training internally, you can use the funding to cover the cost of delivering the training, like related stationery, room hire and catering. If the training will be delivered by an in-house trainer, you can also use the funding to cover the (reasonable) day rate of the trainer.

You cannot use the funding:

  • towards the existing costs of current training
  • for other unrelated training

The grant will give you up to 50% of the cost of training for your employees, up to a limit of £750 for each employee on a course.

You can get up to 60% of training costs, up to a limit of £1,050 for each employee, if your business:

  • employs fewer than 250 people
  • has an annual turnover of less than €50 million 

You can get up to 70% of training costs, up to a limit of £1,050 for each employee, if your business:

  • employs fewer than 50 people
  • has an annual turnover (or annual balance sheet total) of less than €10 million

IT improvements grant 

To apply for the IT improvements grant, your business must:

  • currently complete customs declarations for importers and exporters
  • have 250 employees or fewer
  • have an annual turnover of less than €50 million

You must use the funding to buy software that will help your business to complete customs declarations more efficiently. It must be a ready-made solution - you cannot use the funding to commission bespoke software.

You can also use the funding to:

  • buy hardware that is needed for the software to run
  • install and configure the software and hardware
  • buy the first-year licence
  • train employees to use the software

You cannot use the funding for unrelated networking costs.

The grant will give you up to €200,000 (the maximum amount of state aid available).

What will you need to apply for the grants?

When you apply, you’ll be asked for your:

  • registered company name and number
  • business contact details
  • business VAT number (if this applies)
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • most recent utility bill for your business

Depending on which grant you’re applying for, you’ll also need to provide some information about what you’ll use the funding for.

For the training grant you will be asked for:

  • a quote for the cost of the training
  • the CV of the trainer if the training will be delivered internally

For the IT improvements grant you’ll be asked for:

  • details of the software you intend to buy
  • quotes for the cost of:
    • buying and installing the software
    • buying and installing related hardware
    • training employees to use the software

To apply for these grants, visit https://www.customsintermediarygrant.co.uk/registration/

If you need further information or help with your application, please contact your usual HB&O contact or speak to our VAT Consultant, Jessica Mason.