Meet Our People: Ash Lacey
Welcome to our exclusive "Meet the People" series, where we take you behind the scenes to meet the dedicated individuals powering Customs Support. These passionate professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of our mission: empowering your global trade.
In this edition, we are excited to present Felixstowe SCDP Team Leader Ash Lacey, who has been providing Simplified Customs Declaration Process declarations for over six years – both with UK Customs Solutions and Customs Support.
Join us as Ash shares his story, and his insights into this key duty management service.
Who are you?
I’m Ash Lacey, 29 years old, from Felixstowe. I have been working with the team here for the last six years, and am the team leader for the SCDP department.
What does a team leader do in the SCDP department?
I manage accounts for key clients and ensure that the members of my team have the support they need to keep our clients’ obligations done accurately and on time. SCDP is very time-sensitive and also includes a lot of auditing, so it’s my job to ensure our clients remain compliant.
What does your typical working day look like?
It depends on the time of the month as full supplementary declarations (FSDs) are required by the fourth working day for the month just gone, so we are naturally busy in the week before. Although there is only one FSD required per importer, this includes all of their goods that arrived in the previous month and is very time-sensitive, so our priority is to check and submit this data on time.
Otherwise, we work with our clients to ensure that they have their own records in order. SCDP requires a licence for both the customs broker and the importer, and the audits are more stringent than those required for some other processes, like AEO-certification, because there can be large sums of duty and VAT outstanding.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the office environment that we have here in Felixstowe. It’s relaxed, the team here get on well, and it’s a great environment to just get on with the job.
You worked in imports before. What’s so different with SCDP?
With standard import clearances, the full declaration is being done at the border. With SCDP, there is only a simplified declaration being made – no values or commodity codes are entered until the supplementary declaration is complete. The details remain the same, though.
From a process point of view, this means that the clearance is complete at the border with a normal clearance, but it remains open with SCDP until the supplementary declaration is completed the next month.
What are the most common uses of SCDP that you can see?
There are a variety of benefits that you can get with SCDP, depending on the type of goods you are moving and the operation you are running behind it. The benefits can be as simple or as complicated as you need them to be.
For example, we have one client, a retailer, who uses SCDP just to prevent their fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCGs) from being delayed at customs or their internal team bogged down in administration. Their shops get the goods on time, and their procurement team only have to deal with one master declaration.
Another client of ours is in the manufacturing space, and they leverage their SCDP licence to simplify their admin for duty management schemes – mainly bonded warehousing and Inward Processing Relief.
SCDP was called CFSP not long ago. Have you noticed any difference with the change in terminology?
No. Although the terminology has changed, we still get some clients referring to it as CFSP (Customs Freight Simplified Procedures).
I suspect it will still be called CFSP by some people within the industry for a while, and effectively it is the same thing.
What's the most common concern for new SCDP users that actually turns out to be not a big deal once they're onboarded?
Mostly it’s a lack of understanding of what the benefits are and how much freedom it gives them. To most, it seems like they are simply kicking the can down the road and creating two declarations instead of one, but that isn’t the case.
With SCDP, you get more time to answer queries on shipments, or find paperwork whilst keeping the goods moving. You also have cash flow benefits of paying the duty and VAT the following month.
Administratively, it’s far easier for purchase orders and monthly expenses to be matched against a single declaration than it is trying to pair orders with entry numbers on the C79.
What do you like to do when you're not a work Ash and how do you think that outside like you, this is your work skills?
I’m a big fan of rugby, watching and playing rugby since I was young. I also very much enjoy reading.
In regard to rugby, it certainly helps with, as a team leader, building skills for working with a variety of people.
Reading I do just for enjoyment. It’s a nice way to switch off and move away from staring at a screen all day.
What is the most important thing that clients should look for when they're considering a partner for SCDP?
Compliance. You need to be following the right processes, be up to date with HMRC, manage taxes properly, declare the right commodity codes, and ask the right questions to ensure that information is complete and correct. Compliance drives all of that.
What are some of the errors that you've had to fix when clients have switched over to you?
One of the common ones I have seen is when clients have been using express agents. You can’t complete an SCDP simplified entry when the goods have already left the border. What we found was that we needed to cancel entries and then complete them with the express agents instead of leveraging CFSP, which is not what clients want.
Again, it comes down to education. Once we are able to make it standard practice that the importer gives those instructions to the express carrier – or their account manager – to contact us before arrival, we can ensure the correct process is being followed.
You work with a Europe-wide network. If you were to visit an office location of custom support, which city or country would you want to go and see first and why?
Norway, because I think it looks like a pretty interesting country. I don't mind the cold either. In fact, I prefer it, so I’d love to go there and explore.