12 SEP 2018

Disability firm under threat due to EU rules

A Kent disability firm says it is "likely to go out of business" because of EU tariff charges which can't be changed for almost a decade. Kingsdown resident David Wilsher's firm Mission Cycles, based in Maidstone, sells products designed for disabled people – which should make them exempt from import duty.

But HM Revenue and Customs enforced a rate of 6% – an £85,000 bill for the small business – blaming tariff classifications decided by the EU. A more recent order was subject to new anti-dumping charges on Chinese steel imports. The electric trikes from China were suddenly charged at a rate of 43% – an extra £17,640.

Mr Wilsher said: "I had no advance notice that duties of 37% would apply before I could clear the order through customs. I had to take a loan out from the bank just to get the products out of the warehouse, where they would have been picking up even more charges.

"Our customers rely on these products for mobility. They are not wealthy and it is extremely important to their quality of life. Meanwhile, we as a company are likely to go out of business."

After I went to HMRC, their officers reduced the £85,000 bill to around £65,000 and arranged a visit to Missions Cycles to discuss the remainder. But officers did not agree to further concessions, again blaming the EU's classifications.

During the visit, Mr Wilsher says he asked how the tariff classification could be changed and says he was told submissions had already been made for 2022, so it couldn't be looked at until the next round in 2027.

This case underlines how damaging EU rules can be to British businesses – and why it is so important that we take back control of our trade policy. The EU's Customs Union protects foreign companies with no links to the UK. And it stops poorer countries in the rest of the world from trading with us.

Lower tariffs mean lower prices, for everyone. That's why I am fighting for a proper Brexit, so we can have a trade policy that is sensible, flexible and global.


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Charlie Elphicke

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