A government move to inject another £50m into training and recruiting customs agents in the wake of its decision not to extend the Brexit transition period has been given a muted welcome by the freight industry.

The additional funding was announced by HMRC last week to help businesses prepare for the significant rise in customs declarations that they will need to process under a no-deal Brexit.

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) said this week that it has been warning the government for some time that there is a “huge shortage of staff” needed to process the additional customs declarations.

Robert Keen, director general said: “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 1 January 2021.

He added: “We have regularly emphasised that it could take up to a year to train staff to be fully conversant to prepare a range of basic customs declarations, even if there was a sufficient number of trainers to train those staff, as well as relevant courses for them to attend.

“Clearly the government is finally getting the message that increased capacity in this sector will be important whatever our future relationship with the EU.”

The new round of funding is for employee training and IT improvements for customs intermediaries, traders and hauliers that make customs declarations to help them prepare ahead of 1 January 2021.

Applications for the new funding will be open from July 2020.