Whatever your views might be on Brexit, uncertainty over the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union is undoubtedly bad for business across the country. Haulage companies in particular stand to face significant issues. A ‘no-deal’ exit, which would see the UK-EU relationship shift to World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, could change the system of customs checks goods have to go through literally overnight, creating delays and jams at ports of entry. |
Still, there are plenty of reasons to remain positive about the situation. The government is not ignoring these concerns, with treasury secretary Mel Stride noting that ‘a responsible government must plan for every eventuality’. Accordingly, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a scheme in place to ensure a smooth transition in border arrangements, whatever happens in the next weeks or months and whatever final form Brexit takes.
Read on to learn more about it.
HMRC has written to businesses (including haulage companies) three times to date, seeking to inform them about the potential consequences of Brexit in the hopes that it will better allow them to prepare for it. In Stride’s words, each time HMRC has been ‘stepping up the advice and encouraging them [firms] to take action’.
In its most recent letter, sent to 145,000 VAT-registered firms, it clarified its plan for a no-deal exit. In a scheme called ‘Transitional Simplified Procedures’ (TSP), HMRC offers to guarantee clear and quick passage of EU goods through UK border checks for a year after a no-deal exit.
This is crucial, as it gives firms the necessary time to understand new checks and plan accordingly. Changes on UK-EU borders could completely transform the logistics industry in an instant. With TSP, HMRC aims to give firms enough time to adjust.
The overriding goal of TSP seems to be to provide haulage companies and other businesses as much time and space as they need to adjust to a changed UK-EU relationship.
While HMRC is keen to stress that getting a decent deal remains the UK government’s priority, Stride made clear that ‘responsible’ preparations would include a variety of options – including a no-deal scenario.
If TSP needs to come into effect, it is due for review three to six months after its introduction. HMRC will also consult firms with at least twelve months’ notice of the end of TSP, meaning that haulage companies and others across different sectors will have at least a year to plan and make any necessary changes.
Whatever your views on the European Union and UK membership, not knowing what the next few months will bring has been one of the worst aspects of Brexit – and one of the most potentially dangerous for all industries. It’s encouraging, then, that HMRC has put these measures in place to help smooth things out for everyone involved the transport sector.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.
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