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Collapse in confidence in the Customs Declaration Service

31 March 2017

The Treasury Committee publishes correspondence between Rt Hon. Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Committee, and Jim Harra, Director General (Customer, Strategy and Tax Design) of HMRC, on the collapse in confidence in the successful implementation of the Customs Declaration System.

Chair's Comments

Commenting on the correspondence, Mr Tyrie said:

"In just 67 days, confidence in the successful implementation of the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) – a project that HMRC itself describes as 'business critical' – has collapsed.  On 25 November 2016 it was given a 'Green' rating, meaning that it was 'successful' and 'on time'. On 31 January 2017, it was given an 'Amber/red' rating, meaning it was 'in doubt', with 'major risks', and needing 'urgent action'.

Customs is at the heart of the Brexit debate. It is part of the essential plumbing for international trade, and ensuring it continues to function smoothly post-Brexit has to be a priority for the Government.

The CDS is needed in order to handle a possible five-fold increase in declarations that could occur when the UK leaves the EU. The consequences of this project failing, or even being delayed, could be serious. Much trade could be lost. The project, therefore, merits a high degree of scrutiny by Parliament.

I have written to the Infrastructure and Projects Authority to ask them for their latest assessment of the state of the CDS project. I have also written to Nick Lodge, Director General Transformation at HM Treasury, for further information on the risks to the project. The Committee will also want to see the contingency plans, in the event that the CDS is not delivered on time." 

Further information

Image: HM Treasury