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Have we forgotten about Brexit? Our survey says not...

Tom Rathborn Tom Rathborn

Given the events of 2020, it's easy to think that UK businesses have overlooked the impact of Brexit. Dave Munton explains that, on the contrary, they haven’t forgotten, they’ve just already prepared or are focused on more immediate problems.

With COVID-19 still disrupting the market, it would have been easy to put Brexit preparations to back of mind until the end of the transition period snuck up on us.

While this may indeed be the case for some, a Brexit poll we conducted in the first two weeks of December found that 71% of respondents feel confident that their ongoing Brexit preparations will be sufficient to see them through, even with just days remaining and a No Deal looking ever-more certain.

Indeed, almost a third (31%) of the 642 leaders of mid-sized UK businesses we polled don't expect Brexit to have any impact on their business in the next six months. Even more (38%) predict that the end of the transition period will actually have a positive impact on their business.

Of course, those expecting a positive impact were more likely to feel ready but, overall, almost double the number of business leaders were more concerned with the immediate challenges of ongoing coronavirus lockdown restrictions than Brexit: 41% versus 22%.

See below for the results of our survey:

Brexit will impact all sectors

While business leaders clearly feel that the end of the transition period will be a good thing, it is surprising to see that so many don’t believe there will be an immediate impact on their business.

It's unlikely any business will be able to totally avoid the impact that Brexit, especially a No Deal Brexit, will have. Whether it’s the consequences to the economy and the strength of the pound, or the impacts on the day-to-day aspects of doing business in a global market, the effects of Brexit will hit different businesses in different ways over different timeframes.

Our work with our clients does suggest that while many businesses have successfully dealt with the unique challenges thrown at them over the last nine months, the uncertainty surrounding the short-term consequences of Brexit has resulted in the deferral of some activity until more clarity is available.

All business leaders have spent 2020 fighting the more-immediate threats presented by the coronavirus situation. We see from the data that the big definable problems, such as further restrictions in terms of workplace safety, travel restrictions, people productivity, and looming regulatory changes, are higher up the mid-market leader’s list of potential threats than Brexit.

For those still concerned...

Generally, the market seems to feel ready for Brexit. But while the majority feel prepared, what we still find troubling is that one-in-four respondents (24%) don't feel confident their business is ready for changes. This is a significant portion of the market. Twenty two percent also feel that Brexit will have a negative impact on them, while 9% are still unsure.

The biggest worry for these leaders is staying compliant with new legislation and regulatory changes. This is followed by issues such as recruitment and mobility, data challenges and tax and customs changes.

That's where we can help. Our team are keeping updated with the changes to the market, both likely and confirmed. We can help you navigate through the changing landscape as Britain finally leaves the EU.

For support in getting your business ready for whatever challenges Brexit may bring, contact Tom Rathborn.

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