Deloitte wins post-Brexit customs contract from HMRC

02 August 2023 3 min. read

HMRC has awarded Deloitte a post-Brexit contract which could be worth as much as £100 million. The deal will see Deloitte  to design, build, operate and maintain a new digital system for businesses trading across the UK border.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the country is still having to put in place new regulatory and tax measures for international trade. As part of the part of the government’s wider 2025 UK border strategy, the Single Trade Window (STW) project is intended to provide traders with a single digital platform – which they can use to submit information once only, with data then shared, as required, between all relevant teams and agencies.

Work on the project is being led by HMRC but, as with many aspects of Brexit – which occurred after six years of austerity had left the civil service depleted and underfunded – the UK’s tax body has brought in extra support from the private sector. HMRC has subsequently announced Big Four firm Deloitte will help develop the portal for cross-border trade.

Deloitte wins post-Brexit customs contract from HMRC

A statement from the department said, “The STW programme is a cross-government project and priority [and] all departments and agencies that have a presence at the border are engaged as key delivery partners”.

The STW was first launched in December 2020, following the 2019 election of Boris Johnson as prime minister – who ran largely on the promise to "get Brexit done." Following the UK's practical departure from the EU at the end of the 2021 transition period, open border arrangements with the EU came to an end and border checkers came into place.

Deloitte’s contract with HMRC is reportedly worth up to £100 million, over a span of three years. The firm will now work to help design, build, operate and maintain "a market-leading digital platform," with the government hoping the STW will create a single gateway for all data from traders.

The contract notice for the appointment noted, “The chosen supplier will need to work flexibly with the STW Programme and its delivery partners across HMG departments to ensure the service design and delivery of the STW is fit for now and for the future, to enable the range of ambitious border transformations that government is undertaking. These ambitions include the integration of supply chain data into HMG’s border model and ultimately implementation of the Ecosystem of Trust model which HMG is currently piloting with industry.”

Systems currently used to record data about goods at the border – which include those from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs – are "not optimised to share useful data between departments," according to the government strategy. However, the STW is modelled on systems employed by other governments around the world, including New Zealand, with the hopes of optimising the recording and distribution of data.

HMRC’s tender notice adds, “The contract with the chosen technical delivery partner will include clear mechanisms that will enable both the buyer and the supplier to be responsive to future changes that the government wishes to implement at the border, supporting the cross-government and cross-nation evolution of the UK border.”

Deloitte has been a core part of the UK government’s delivery of Brexit – illustrated by the fact it was by far the biggest recipient of public funds in the consulting sector from 2019 to 2020. The firm earned fees of £147 million over that period, compared with £40 million just two years earlier, amid a bonanza related in large part to the divorce from the EU.