The government has announced extra spending of as much as £2.1bn to prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit after chancellor Sajid Javid said departments needed to “intensify" their planning to ensure the UK is ready for the possibility of leaving without a deal on 31 October.
The Treasury announced that £1.1bn would be made available immediately for a number of projects to prepare the UK a no-deal scenario. An extra £1bn will be keep in reserve and made available if needed, with departments able to submit bids to the Treasury if they require additional funding.
The cash is in addition to the £2bn already allocated for Brexit preparations in the current financial year by former chancellor Philip Hammond.
Today’s allocations areas are set out in terms of projects rather than departments.
Funding being released today includes £344m for border and customs operations, mainly in the Home Office. These include hiring a further 500 border force officers, doubling the number already recruited in preparation, to avoid delays by boosting capacity to process UK passport applications this year. This package will also include additional support for customs agents – who include customs brokers, freight forwarders and fast parcel operators, whose job is to help firms move their goods through customs checks – to train new staff or improve IT services so businesses can get the support they need to complete customs declarations.
Cash will also be used to update plans for Operation Brock, which was set up to reduce the risk of gridlock on the M20, the main trunk road connecting the Channel ports of Dover and Folkstone.
Other allocations include £434m to help ensure the UK does not lose access to medicines and medical products. As well as tendering for additional freight capacity, which the Department for Transport indicated yesterday could cost as much as £300m, this money will be used to pay for warehousing capacity to stockpile essential goods.
The government’s planned public information campaign to convince people and businesses to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, will get £138m, which will also be used to increase consular support and information for British people living abroad.
A further £108m will be made available to promote and support businesses to ensure they are ready for Brexit, helping exporters to prepare for new opportunities when the UK leaves the trading bloc.
With 92 days until the UK is due to leave the EU, Javid said: “If we can’t get a good deal, we’ll have to leave without one. This additional £2.1bn will ensure we are ready to leave on 31 October – deal or no deal.”