The British International Freight Association (BIFA), the trade association that represents UK freight forwarders, advised customs intermediaries to apply for the £50 million worth of fresh funding from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to extend, train or take in staff, including furloughed ones, confirmed a press release.
HMRC, which runs the customs grant scheme, urges BIFA’s members to take advantage of the funding now to increase their capacity to make declarations ahead of 2021. As operator and overseer of loan schemes and the Government’s furlough payments, HMRC had already made available around £34 million to bolster the intermediary sector, stated a separate press release, bringing the total funding for the customs intermediary sector to £84 million.
BIFA’s Director General, Robert Keen said “Whilst we welcome the additional funding, as we did when the first two rounds of funding were announced, we can only keep our fingers crossed that it produces the thousands of additional customs experts that the government agrees will be needed come January 1st 2021.”
With Covid-19 preventing face-to-face training, BIFA decided to replicate almost the entire course range and deliver the courses via video conferencing. Keen encouraged BIFA members that have furloughed employees to apply for funding to sponsor the online customs training of their staff.
“Government guidance allows furloughed employees to engage in training, provided that whilst undertaking the training the employee does not provide service to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation,” the Director General remarked.
Launched in November 2018, the customs grant scheme is run by HMRC and administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on its behalf, to support the expansion of the intermediary market, according to the gov.uk website