Brexit countdown: Survey shows some SMEs still have no plan in place

25 Sep 2018

Canary Wharf. Image: Theo Plomari/Shutterstock

Ministers are urging SMEs to make a plan for Brexit as the deadline approaches.

The third survey on SME attitudes towards Brexit from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has been published.

The survey, carried out by Behaviours & Attitudes for the department in June 2018, shows that more than two out of five businesses strongly impacted by the changes ahead now have a plan in place. This is a major improvement on this time last year.

More companies need to start planning for Brexit

28pc of the 548 businesses surveyed in total have a plan in place. 44pc of businesses that will particularly feel the impact of Brexit have a plan in place, with Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, urging the remaining companies to begin creating a strategy.

General awareness of what the implications of the deal may be is also on the up. 42pc of those surveyed have been engaging with some form of Brexit information resource. This includes engaging with their business representative bodies, attending a Brexit roadshow or information session, or availing of Brexit supports provided by State bodies.

13pc of firms have taken some mitigating action to address their Brexit challenges. These include changing the source of raw materials and market diversification.

SMEs need to understand the challenges ahead

The survey found that approximately half of surveyed SMEs have a good understanding of at least one of the challenges they face. The main four outlined by the survey are tariffs, customs, regulatory standards and sales restrictions. The level of understanding of all four challenges is low, at just 22pc in general and 15pc for exporting SMEs.

Humphreys said: This latest survey shows a marked increase in the number of impacted businesses preparing for change, which is both encouraging and welcome. With six months to go to Brexit, many businesses are taking the first important steps of gathering information and developing contingency plans. Many others are already taking actions with their suppliers and customers to build resilience, whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations.”

Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen, TD, highlighted the wide range of supports available to businesses ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. He said: “Government departments, enterprise agencies and regulatory bodies all have dedicated resources available to help business identify the key risk areas for business, and on the practical preparatory actions that can be taken over the coming months.”

Humphreys put the message simply: “The Government is here to help.” She added that her department is currently working on developing an investment loan scheme, which would offer long-term loans to businesses for strategic investment in a post-Brexit climate.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects