Brexit hits British business with ‘increased costs, paperwork and border delays’ … reports LDD Newsdesk
Britain’s post-Brexit plans to have the world’s most effective border by 2025 were described by a House of Commons committee as “a noteworthy ambition” but one that is hard to achieve due to a lack of concrete measures.
In a hard-hitting report, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday said there has been a clear increase in costs, paperwork and border delays for British business since Britain left the European Union (EU), Xinhua news agency reported.
“It has not helped by repeated delays to a new import regime,” the Committee added.
Since the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, when Britain finally left the bloc, the country’s trade volumes have been suppressed by the impact of Covid-19 and wider global pressures, it said.
“The government has ambitious plans to create ‘the most effective border in the world’ by 2025. While this is a noteworthy ambition, it is optimistic, given where things stand today and we are not convinced that it is underpinned by a detailed plan to deliver it,” the report said.
The PAC said if cross-border passenger volumes recover during 2022 as the pandemic subsides, there is potential for disruption at the border with the EU. Cross-Channel volumes have been at a fraction of normal levels because of the pandemic.
It will be exacerbated, warned the committee, by “further checks at ports as part of the EU’s new Entry and Exit system”. This is especially likely at ports like the English port of Dover where EU officials carry out border checks on the British side.
Politician Meg Hillier, Chair of the committee, said: “One of the great promises of Brexit was freeing British businesses to give them the headroom to maximise their productivity and contribution to the economy — even more desperately needed now on the long road to recovery from the pandemic. Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays.”
“In our view, there is much more work the government should be doing in the short term to understand and minimise the current burden on those trading with the EU and to have a border in place which is operating effectively without further delays or temporary measures,” Hillier added.
Meanwhile, over half of all firms engaging in importing business from the European Union (EU) to Britain have found the new border controls “challenging”, a new survey has revealed.
The full customs control, as agreed in Brexit deals, requests that British importers make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK since January 1, 2022, as the once-introduced 175-day cushion period is due, reports Xinhua news agency.
Some controls, including certificates and physical checks on agri-foods and plant imports, are being postponed till July 1 this year.
Twenty-two per cent of the involved businesses responded that the controls are “very challenging”, according to the survey by the Institute of Directors.
Another 36 per cent considered them “quite challenging”, it added.
Small businesses have been disproportionately hit, according to the survey. Thirty-one per cent of them reported “very challenging”, compared to 12 per cent of medium-sized ones and only 7 per cent of larger ones.
“Our members have told us these challenges are mainly due to added administration and paperwork, which in many cases means taking on extra costs,” said Emma Rowland, policy advisor at the organisation.
Smaller businesses “do not have the capacity that larger businesses do to shoulder this burden, both in terms of time and resource”, she said.
Rowland urged the government to ramp up awareness and resources for small and medium-sized enterprises ahead of additional controls coming later this year.
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