Watch Hannah Pettifer’s report
An international removal company in Maldon in Essex says its business has been reduced to zero because of Brexit.
Over the past ten years, Algarve Removals has carried out almost 90,000 removals to and from Portugal – but now everything has ground to a halt.
When the Brexit trade deal came into effect on 1st January, the company was told by Portuguese customs that they had to pay a 40% charge on everything moving into Portugal.
It means the average house move, which previously cost around £4,000, now faced an additional £10,000 charge.
One of Algarve Removals’ clients who had already moved to Portugal last year, had no choice but to pay £25,000 to be reunited with their personal effects.
John Scott, from Algarve Removals, said: “Despite Boris saying this Brexit deal would secure jobs, it will be seamless changes for us all, he’s so wrong, so wrong.
“As far as I can see there’s no deal, there’s no free trade, the Canada agreement he went on about does not exist.
“Our customers are paying 23 per cent plus 14 per cent VAT and duty. This makes a removal to Portugal for whatever reason uneconomical.”
Clients are either cancelling their removals or doing without their goods for the time being, waiting for the trade deal dust to settle.
The company’s warehouse holds 200 storage crates containing people’s belongings, that were due to go to Portugal or Spain this month.
John says he doesn’t have the answers as to how to move the containers out there at the moment.
Responding to a request from ITV News Anglia, a UK 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.
“There is extensive support available for businesses including dedicated HMRC exporting telephone and online helplines, regular webinars with policy experts, and the Brexit Checker Tool on gov.uk which gives businesses a personalised list of actions that they need to take.”
But John says there are not enough customs agents to deal with the amount of Brexit red tape.
His calls to the HMRC helpline have left him with an appointment to speak to an advisor on 6th February. But John says he needs the help to make decisions for his business now.
Fifty people in the UK and Portugal rely on him for work.
He says he needs to know whether this is trade deal teething problems that will be rectified in the coming months, or a price his customers now have to pay for transporting their goods across European borders.