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How prepared are small businesses for a potential ‘no deal’ Brexit?

The closer we get to the date specified for Brexit, which is scheduled for 29 March 2019, the more unclear it all appears. With the Conservative Party Conference underway now, and Prime Minister Theresa May apparently facing revolt from both ‘Remainers’ and ‘Brexiteers’ in her party, there has been much media speculation that the UK will be heading for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

And while it’s also unclear how prepared anyone is for this scenario, according to research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), few have started serious preparations.

No deal, no problem?

Just 14% (one in seven) small businesses has begun planning for the scenario of a no-deal Brexit, according to the research. The FSB’s report shows that while another 41% of small businesses think that a no deal Brexit will adversely impact their business, they haven’t yet started planning in real terms for this eventuality.

One in ten small businesses (10%) said that they think a no-deal Brexit will have a positive effect on their business. On the other side, nearly half of small businesses in the UK (48%) think that a no-deal style Brexit will negatively affect their ability to do business.

When considering small businesses that trade with the EU, this figure increases to 66%. For SMEs that employ people from the EU, 61% think no deal means problems ahead for their business.

Planned actions

As well as discovering the percentage of small businesses who are concerned about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit, the research also breaks down what they’re planning to do about it.

It shows that just over a third of small businesses (35%) are planning to postpone major innovations, research and development and businesses decisions. Just over a fifth (21%) of small businesses likely to be affected by a no deal Brexit will be cutting expenditure and staff between now and the time the UK leaves the EU.

Michael Watkinson, FSB Development Manager for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, believes the findings show that small businesses are not prepared for the potential chaos that could arise from a no deal Brexit. He said: “Looking at this research, it’s obvious that our small firms are not prepared or ready for a chaotic no deal Brexit and the impact that it will have on their businesses.”

The Government appears to confirm that a no deal Brexit is likely, with Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, saying today (1 October) that the UK could be “left with no choice but a no-deal Brexit if the EU tries to lock us in to a customs union”.

Government support

James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited said: “Small businesses that sell products to the EU, rely on employees from the EU or buy products from the EU are understandably concerned at how a no deal Brexit could affect them. It’s clear from research like this that many feel they are in the dark about what to expect and how they should prepare for it.

“It’s particularly concerning that small businesses are electing to delay business decisions, stopping investment and, perhaps most problematically, cutting staff. Small businesses form the very backbone of the UK’s economy and the Government must listen to their concerns as we head towards Brexit.

“With so much unclear it’s not surprising that SMEs haven’t started preparing for Brexit, as no one knows what to prepare for. In the ideal scenario at this stage, the Government would talk to and work directly with the small business sector in the UK to make sure that they are properly supported if a no deal Brexit continues to become the most likely scenario.

“We only have about six months until exit day, so it’s very much a race against time to avoid a situation where the UK will crash out of the EU in a way that will damage small businesses. It will be interesting to see what arises from the Conservative Party Conference as this is a key time for the Prime Minister’s current plan.”

About Turner Little

Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction/repair, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.

Turner Little

Turner Little and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Material on this page has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.