UK is still ‘many thousands of customs agents short’ of targets

We are standing by our urgent call for the Government to secure more, fully trained customs agents to ease the burden of red tape on UK businesses.

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, businesses in the UK have been grappling with a mass of new paperwork, with complex forms to fill out for moving goods between the UK and EU. Securing customs agents to assist with this paperwork and ensure its filled out quickly and accurately has been an enormous challenge for many businesses.

Today in Parliament Margaret Ferrier, the Independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, put a question to Penny Mordaunt about the steps the UK Government was taking to ensure that the country has the number of customs agents required to deal with new, post-Brexit red tape.

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MP Margaret Ferrier asked: “The Road Haulage Association has highlighted that UK exports to the EU will not recover until Summer at the earliest, due to a shortage of customs agents. The industry estimates we need 30,000 customs agents for the whole of the UK, and we are presently well short of that target.

“Will the minister delineate what steps are currently being taken to meet that target?”

However, Penny Mordaunt was dismissive of these concerns, saying that the original calculations for how many customs agents would be needed were ‘overestimated’, and that agreements which had been recently signed were mitigating a lot of these issues.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for businesses across the UK who are still dealing with chaos, confusion and costs as a result of the difficulties navigating this new paperwork.

RHA managing director Rod McKenzie said: “The RHA continues to argue that we are many thousands of customs agents short of what is needed for the red tape that traders now face.

“We have many first-hand accounts from traders about just how difficult it is to find a customs agent. This would not be the case if what the minister claims is accurate.”