Border tech and UK sat nav among projects boosted by government’s £2bn Brexit prep package
HMRC, Defra, and the Home Office are the major beneficiaries of departmental funding
The government has allocated £2bn worth of funding to help departments improve their preparedness for Brexit, with the Home Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and HM Revenue and Customs set to receive the largest amounts.
The money has been distributed following a needs-based analysis of what departments must do to prepare for Brexit, and in particular the impact of leaving the EU with no deal, according to the Treasury.
A number of major technology and digital programmes will be boosted by the funding, including HMRC’s rollout of the new Customs Declaration Service, and the deployment of digital services and technology at the UK border. Also set for a cash injection is ongoing work to explore the development of the UK’s own sat nav system – as the country faces being shut out of key elements of the EU Galileo satellite project after we depart the European Union.
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The allocations were made after the Cabinet yesterday approved plans to urge departments to suspend all non-essential government business so that civil servants can concentrate on no-deal planning. Following the Cabinet meeting, defence secretary Gavin Williamson also told MPs that 3,500 army troops were on standby to support departments on any "contingencies".
The UK could leave the EU without a deal next March if the House of Commons does not approve the draft agreement prime minister Theresa May has reached on the terms of the UK’s exit. The postponed vote on the plan is now set to take place in mid-January.
The money will not be available until the start of the 2019-20 financial year in April, so it will enable departments to respond to, rather than anticipate, the impact of no deal.
But announcing what would be provided, chancellor Philip Hammond said the spending would support vital preparations including getting new border and customs operations ready, gearing up UK trade policy and taking back control of our waters.
“I’ve worked with departments so they have the resources to prepare as we leave the European Union, including our borders, trade policies and support for businesses. But a responsible government prepares for all contingencies and that is why we’re stepping up no deal planning,” he said.
The five biggest Brexit preparation allocations confirmed today are made to the Home Office (£480m), Defra (£410m), HMRC (£375m), BEIS (£190m) and the Department for International Trade (£128m).
Defra’s preparations to ensure uninterrupted trade in fish and fisheries products, chemicals, and agri-food whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, while HMRC is expected to use the cash to will employ over 3,000 additional customer service and compliance staff in operational roles to handle increases in customs activity, as well as introducing new technology at the border. BEIS plans to use the funds for projects including the development of options for a UK global navigation satellite system if the UK is excluded from the EU’s Galileo system.
This means that since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, £4.2bn has been made available towards EU exit preparations, the Treasury said.
This consists of £412m for DIT, FCO and DExEU at Autumn Budget 2016 and over £250m across a number of departments in 2017-18, £1.5bn Brexit preparedness funding for 2018/19, allocated at Spring Statement 2018, and the £2bn for 2019/20.
The full list of 2019-20 allocations is below.
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