Scottish shoppers warned of further price rises and delays as Brexit rule changes

Shoppers could face further price rises and a shortage of products from Europe on supermarket shelves when another step in the Brexit process is taken on January 1, customs experts have warned.

Despite the UK leaving the European Union on January 1, 2020, the Government has delayed many of the customs laws that were due to come into force last year.

However, the six-month grace period to declare the origin of products entering the country from the EU ends on New Year’s Eve, and this could lead to a delivery delays and additional costs for bringing everyday products into the UK.

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Simon Sutcliffe, a partner at tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg, said he believed Government delays in implementing post-Brexit customs laws – known as rules of origin – have “softened the impact” of the UK’s exit from the European Union, and that “things will get worse” when they are finally brought in.

“The removal of the ad-hoc permission to enter goods and then worry about the customs entry six months later will mean that importers will be faced with getting the customs paperwork right when the goods arrive at the frontier,” said Mr Sutcliffe, who is also a former government customs investigator. “This easement has kept imports into GB flowing quite nicely.

“The longer and more costly process would lead to higher costs for the consumer as things become more time-critical and agents have to work harder to clear goods on arrival, not relying on that six-month breathing space. This means that customs agents will raise their prices which will be passed on.”

Sean Glancy, a partner at accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, also urged the Government to delay the certification rules around imports.

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“Nobody wants to risk further snarl-ups in cross border trade,” he said. “Many UK SMEs are dependent on goods supplied from the EU. Additional customs checks put those supplies at risk.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Overall trader readiness for the introduction of import controls is strong. The Government is also on track to deliver new systems, infrastructure and resourcing needed for these controls.”

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