UK Timber Industry could be hit with a £1 billion ‘Brexit Bill’

The UK’s timber industry could be hit with a £1 billion ‘Brexit Bill’ once Britain leaves the European Union, according to the Timber Trade Federation (TTF).

The organisation’s Managing Director, David Hopkins, revealed that around 90% of timber for construction projects is imported from the EU, and 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,” Mr Hopkins said.

In addition, additional problems have been highlighted not just for the timber sector but for construction supply chains in general, include potential delays, and greater costs for storing timber at ports and in administering customs checks and documentation.

“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” Mr Hopkins said.

Mr Hopkins continued: “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.”

With around 200,000 people across the UK employed by the timber sector in manufacturing, distribution and construction, the TTF is calling on 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.

The TTF has launched an infographic for legislators, Parliamentarians and the public, explaining what it calls ‘The Timber Tax Bombshell’. To view the infographic, visit here.