Majority of businesses unprepared for Brexit transition
British businesses are unprepared for the end of the Brexit transition, a new survey has revealed.
The British Chambers of Commerce’s Brexit research found that just 38 per cent of firms had completed a Brexit risk assessment this year, compared to 57 per cent in 2019 and 35 per cent in 2018.
“With just 98 days to go, business communities face the triple threat of a resurgent coronavirus, receding government support schemes, and a disorderly end to the transition period,” said BCC director general Adam Marshall.
BCC’s research also found that more than half (51 per cent) of firms surveyed had not taken any of the eight steps recommended by the government to prepare for changes in the movement of goods between the UK and the EU.
This includes fundamentals of operation for trading businesses such as checking on the need for customs declarations and assessing the possible impact of changes on existing customers and suppliers.
According to BCC, the lack of information with which to plan and potential deadline fatigue presents further challenges to firms up and down the UK that have faced reduced demand, ongoing government restrictions and sustained cash flow challenges due to the coronavirus crisis.
“Significant unanswered questions remain for businesses, and despite recent public information campaigns, base levels of preparedness are low,” Mr Marshall said.
“Many firms say they’ve heard talk of deadlines and cliff edges before, and others are still grappling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic and have little cash or information with which to plan.
“While we recognise that some of the questions facing businesses are subject to ongoing negotiations between the government and the EU, other matters are within the UK’s own hands.”
He encouraged the government to ramp up engagement with business urgently — to the levels seen prior to previous “no deal” deadlines — to ensure that the real-world issues facing firms get tackled immediately.
“The ‘Check, Change, Go’ campaign gives the impression that Brexit-related changes are like getting an MOT — whereas the reality is that for many businesses, they’re more akin to planning a moon landing. Businesses need honest communication about the complexity of the changes they face — and stronger encouragement to act,” Mr Marshall concluded.