Friday, June 11, 2021

James Ward, PA

More than two fifths of businesses cited an increase in prices as their biggest Brexit concern in 2021, a new study has shown.

A survey carried out among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found 42 per cent reported price hikes as their biggest worry.

Difficulty in transporting goods to and from the UK was the second biggest Brexit concern, cited by 38 per cent of SMEs.

Over a fifth (21 per cent) reported that a decline in business was their primary concern linked to the UK’s departure from the EU.

CSO statistician Sorcha O’Callaghan said: “In all sectors, 5 per cent or less respondents believed that Brexit would have a positive impact on business in 2021.”

Despite this, 60 per cent, admitted to taking no steps to prepare for Brexit.

Just 1 per cent of businesses surveyed reported availing of Brexit-related financial support schemes from Government, and only 3 per cent said they have started buying or selling into new markets.

New suppliers were sought by 13 per cent of respondents, while 8 per cent increased their preparedness for new custom procedures and duties, but 60 per cent said they have taken no steps.

Construction

Fears over rising prices are most acute in the construction sector, where 65 per cent of businesses ranked it as their number one issue.

In the services sector, 38 per cent of respondents reported that difficulty in transporting goods to and from the UK is their biggest concern, followed by an increase in prices (36 per cent) and a decline in business from UK customers (26 per cent).

Almost half of respondents (47 per cent) in industry reported that transporting goods to and from the UK is their biggest concern.

Businesses were also quizzed on what steps they had taken to mitigate the uncertainty created by Covid-19 and Brexit.

Almost two fifths of respondents (39 per cent) reported taking no steps, while 11 per cent reported laying of workers as a result.

The most common response was pausing or cancelling investments, cited by 13 per cent of enterprises, and implementing pay freezes (13 per cent) and increasing digitisation (12 per cent).

 

In all sectors, 5 per cent or less of those surveyed believed that Brexit would have a positive impact on their business in 2021

More than half of those in the wholesale and retail trade (60 per cent) and the industry sectors (58 per cent)  believed that Brexit would have a negative impact on business in 2021.

The figure was 46 per cent for respondents in the construction sector.

The online survey was sent to a sample of 8,000 businesses and the information was collected in the first quarter of 2021.

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