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Brexit: Positive for business, say firms

BUSINESS leaders across the region are expecting Brexit to have a positive effect on their business once the transition period ends, according to new research.

A report by business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP says that 60% of mid-market businesses leaders in the East of England (polled over the first two weeks of December) expect trading to improve over the first half of 2021 as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

One in five anticipate no effect with 16% fearing a negative impact on their organisation’s performance.

With just days to go to the end of the transition period, the overwhelming majority of mid-market business leaders in the East of England feel either very confident (36%) or fairly confident (56%) that their business has effectively prepared for the changes required as the UK leaves the European Union.

Business leaders were more split when asked how they anticipate Brexit to impact their recovery from Covid-19. 32% said they do not think Brexit will affect their recovery while 28% said it would help. One in five expect it to hinder their recovery.

Hazel Platt, tax partner at Grant Thornton in Milton Keynes, said: “Whether it is the consequences to the UK 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.”

Hazel Platt

“Whilst mid-market business leaders clearly feel that the end of the transition period will be a good thing, it is surprising to see that so many do not believe there will be an immediate impact on their business. 

“Our work with our mid-market clients, however, does suggest that whilst 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. 

When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their business the respondents were more split, with 32% expecting the restrictions and a potential third lockdown to have a negative impact in the next six months. 30% expecting a positive impact. 

The research found that business leaders in the region are more immediately concerned about the impact of global travel restrictions, with 40% saying they will have a negative impact on their business.

As restrictions start to tighten even further across certain areas of the UK, 40% also say that ongoing remote working is likely to impact their business in a negative way over the next six months. 36% of respondents also said that the productivity of their people is likely to have a negative impact. 

Ms Platt said: “All business leaders have spent 2020 fighting the more immediate threats presented by the global pandemic.

“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.” 


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