‘Boris should try to fill in the forms if he thinks they’re so simple’
- Credit: Archant / Harry Rutter
A farmer whose business has completely stalled since Brexit has challenged the prime minister to complete the mountain of paperwork he now has for each job.
Steve Wigginton, of S & T Poultry near Wisbech, has not been able to work at all yet this year because he claims the changes and red tape introduced have made the paperwork impossible.
He imports young chicks to the UK from France and this newspaper has already reported the challenges he has faced this month.
But when Boris Johnson blamed seafood exporters “not filling in the right forms” for their post-Brexit sales crash, Steve felt he had to speak out again.
He said: “Boris should try and fill in the forms himself if he thinks they’re so simple.
“I’m quite happy to arrange a meeting with him and his best advisors, together with other people I know who are having issues, and see him try and fill in all the paperwork.
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“This has been a complete nightmare for us – and the man clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
Before January 1, Steve says importing the chicks into the UK was quite straight forwards.
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But now, he has endless paperwork to complete and has been advised to find customs agents in the UK and in France to facilitate the process.
On top of this, he says he has been told to install specific hardware on his computer in order to move forwards. Steve claims the earliest this can be done is in three months.
He said: “We’re still no further forwards than we were last week.
“The whole system has been geared up for the big haulage firms, and the government has made no consideration for small businesses at all.
“Also, all the agents I’ve approached are at capacity and don’t want to take on a small business like ours.
“We’re not getting the support or help we need from anyone at the moment.”
He added: “We supply 50 other businesses with our product. I’m letting my customers down and right now I can’t see how we can get this sorted out.
“We’ve been in business for 22 years, and I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
While Steve has been in touch with his MP Steve Barclay, his office declined to comment.
A government spokesperson said: “Now the UK has left the EU customs union and single market, there are new rules and processes businesses will need to follow.
“We have encouraged companies new to dealing with customs declarations to appoint a specialist to deal with import and export declarations on their behalf - and we made more than £80 million available to expand the capacity of the customs agents market.
"Most businesses use a specialist such as a customs broker, freight forwarder or fast parcel operator to deal with this.
“The Government will continue to work closely with businesses to ensure they are able to trade effectively under the new rules.”