The UK timber industry faces a potential “Billion Pound Brexit Bill” if Britain leaves the EU Customs Union, the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) said in a statement today.
The timber sector is said to currently employ around 200,000 people across the UK in manufacturing, distribution and construction which suggests every Parliamentary constituency benefits from jobs stemming from or connected to the timber industry.
TTF Managing Director, David Hopkins, commented: “Some 90% of timber used in construction is imported from Europe, which British timber supplies are insufficient to replace. Under the proposed Taxation Bill, once the UK leaves the EU and its VAT area, VAT on EU imports will have to be paid up-front. This will cause considerable problems for the SMEs who make up the majority of our sector.”
The Federation has therefore launched an infographic for legislators, Parliamentarians and the public, explaining what it calls ‘The Timber Tax Bombshell’.
It also highlights problems, not just for the timber sector but for construction supply chains in general, such as potential delays, greater costs for storing timber at ports and administering customs checks and documentation.
David continues: “Builders’ merchants, and their builder customers, responsible for fulfilling government housing targets, rely on Just-In-Time deliveries of timber to premises and sites. Currently timber entering the UK from the EU clears ports immediately with no need for customs checks. Over 60% of the timber used in the UK comes from Europe.”
The Timber Trade Federation is asking the Government to ensure timber imports are able to clear customers in the same manner as present, with no delays or up-front costs likely to penalise SMEs, or to impact Britain’s housing supply chains.
David adds: “The Government must also preserve the existing VAT payments system for imports from the EU, or put in place a new system which maintains the same benefits.”