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Businesses in last-ditch call for clarity on Brexit

Business leaders in the West Midlands have made a last-ditch plea for clarity on Brexit as EU leaders meet today (October 17) to thrash out a deal before the October 31 deadline.

The situation was termed a “sorry state of affairs" with most businesses still “in the dark” only two weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU.

Businesses in last-ditch call for clarity on Brexit

Their comments follow the launch of the October edition of Brexit: How Are Businesses Responding?. The report is based on responses to the Business Brexit Health Check delivered by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), Black Country Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) and Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce (CWCC).

Following the two day summit, MPs will be holding an emergency sitting in the House of Commons on Saturday, the first Saturday sitting since the Falkland’s war.

But representatives of Chambers of Commerce across the West Midlands were still asking for the clarity they have desperately needed for a long time.

The key findings from the latest Business Brexit Health Check were taken between May 28 and September 30. They were:

Overall, a higher proportion of businesses who are exposed to Brexit-related change in key areas (employing EU nationals, exporting or importing goods to/from the EU and trading in goods accredited to EU standards) had taken proactive steps to prepare for Brexit than the average. However there are still notable gaps between potential impact and action in a number of areas including:

    1. 39% of businesses reported employing EU nationals but less than one third (28%) of those reported having undertaken proactive communication and engagement with key groups, including EU nationals in their workforce
    2. 39% of businesses export goods to the EU but only 36% of those reported having adapted their import or export strategies and a third (33%) reported having undertaken proactive communication with key groups, including customers
    3. 47% of businesses import goods from the EU but just over half (52%) of those reported having undertaken a review of key suppliers and customers to identify organisations that may be impacted by Brexit and 32% reported having increased stock levels
    4. Businesses exporting services to the EU, on average, reported feeling less prepared for the trade aspects of Brexit than businesses importing or exporting goods to/from the EU and a lower proportion reported taking active steps to prepare for Brexit than those trading in goods

A WMCA area Chambers of Commerce Brexit Preparedness Topical Poll revealed:

  • Only two in five businesses report having undertaken a Brexit risk assessment on the potential impact of a Brexit deal or no deal on their organisations.
  • Among those businesses that have not undertaken a Brexit risk assessment, only one third intend to use the remaining time up to the current Brexit deadline of the 31st October to prepare.
  • A significantly higher proportion of manufacturing sector firms reported having undertaken a Brexit risk assessment or if not, intending to prepare ahead of the 31st October than services sector firms.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The latest results from our Business Brexit Health Check once again show that a significant proportion of firms in the area haven’t conducted a Brexit risk assessment.

“There is still time to go before the Brexit deadline and as Chambers we are here to work with businesses to assess any areas of risk, look at how that risk can be managed and help companies focus on business growth.

“We know that many businesses are tired of talking about this issue but they shouldn’t let Brexit fatigue put them off conducting a risk assessment and understanding what impact Brexit could have on them. Despite the confusion over the Brexit process there is actually great deal that businesses can do to prepare themselves and we are on hand to help.

“Any businesses who want to understand how Brexit could affect them should contact their local Chamber and complete the Business Brexit Health Check. It only takes a few minutes and can help them identify if and how they could be affected.

“We’re also running numerous events and advice clinics over the next few weeks to raise awareness of the implications of Brexit for firms in the area and provide practical support to help them prepare so there are plenty of opportunities for companies to engage and get help with their preparations.”


Complete a Business Brexit Health Check here:
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