New research from the Scottish & British Chambers of Commerce shows a concerningly high number of UK firms aren’t ready for a no deal Brexit. Businesses have consistently called on the government to avoid a messy and disorderly exit but in light of the political turmoil and relentless uncertainty, clearer and more consistent information are needed to help them prepare.
The survey of firms from across the country found that in the midst of conflicting political messages over the likelihood of no deal and remaining gaps in government guidance, half (50%) of Scottish businesses have not done a Brexit risk assessment. Those that trade internationally (50%) are more likely to have carried out a risk assessment on the impact of Brexit to their business than their counterparts that trade in the UK only (39%).
There has been a welcome jump in those that have carried out a Brexit assessment since last year (67% had not carried out an assessment in 2018), but with just weeks until a potential no deal exit, there is still a large proportion of firms that aren’t in a position to prepare for the impact.
Political turbulence and ongoing uncertainty about the final outcome of the Brexit process is hampering business planning, making it impossible for firms to know what to prepare for. While there has been an increase in the guidance available from the government on conditions in a no-deal, the advice needs to be clearer and more consistent. In many critical areas, such as regulations, customs and trading in Northern Ireland, there is still no good information on which firms can plan.
In a no deal scenario, firms that trade with Europe will face new customs procedures at the border. However, awareness of other schemes* to maintain continuity of trade remains low. The results show that even among internationally active UK businesses:
SCC and the wider chamber network has campaigned successfully for the government to automatically issue EORI numbers, which are critical for trading across borders, to all VAT-registered businesses. Now, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce is calling on HM Government to either automatically enroll or support businesses to access these other important customs and border facilitation.