From today, Customs intermediaries can apply for £50m of new funding.

The trade association for UK freight forwarders, BIFA, has welcomed the news that applications are now open for funding for Customs training, after the scheme was first announced in June. BIFA says that it hopes it will help its members to increase their capacity to make declarations ahead of 2021.

Director General, Robert Keen says: “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 1, 2021.

“Along with HM Revenue and Customs, which is running the scheme, we will be encouraging our members to take advantage of the funding, which could be used to support a business that is extending and taking on new staff, or to help train an existing employee to become competent in completing customs declarations.”

One of the country’s largest providers of Customs-related training courses, BIFA replicated nearly its entire course range to be deliverable via video conferencing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has prevented face-to-face training.

Keen concludes: “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.

“Hence, we are encouraging members that have furloughed employees to take advantage of the additional funding that has been made available by applying for it to finance some of BIFA's online Customs training opportunities for those employees, as well as employees that have not been furloughed.”