The Government must fully prepare businesses for new customs procedures if border delays are to be avoided next year, urged the Road Haulage Association.

The call comes as the Association’s chief executive, Richard Burnett raised concerns that officials have failed to commit to a deadline to provide ‘the promised operating model for customs processes’.

He added that businesses need that clarity immediately if they’ve got any chance of being border ready on 1 January 2021.

In a letter to transport secretary, Grant Shapps MP, after the Border Delivery Group’s Preparing Our Borders event on Monday, Mr Burnett said the industry needs to know what the processes look like to understand the scale of the task to prepare.

“We need HMRC to clearly define the process so that we can understand how many customs agents will be required to support traders and hauliers.”

But he warned that there could still be a huge shortfall of trained agents after transition as the costs of employing new staff without a revenue stream until 2021 would be impossible for many firms; the £7m the Border Delivery Group has earmarked to support the scaling up of customs agents is nowhere near enough.

The Government needs to recognise that solutions need to be crystal clear and immediate to ensure our exit is as smooth as possible, he added.