A stark warning has been issued by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) over official government guidance to businesses – or the lack of it – on critical issues in the event of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.
These concerns are being echoed across the West Midlands by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce which is leading an initiative to urge regional firms to undertake this free Brexit Health Check to ensure they are prepared for the UK leaving the UK.
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber, along with five other West Midlands Chambers, issued their latest advice following revelations from the BCC ‘guidance dashboard’ which is monitoring the quality of official guidance to businesses from the Government.
The BCC dashboard uses a ‘traffic lights’ rating of green, amber and red – with green meaning there is sufficient information, amber meaning there is some information and red meaning there is little or none.
Worryingly the business group has found 31 of 36 business critical areas – based the questions most frequently raised by companies – are still marked amber or red rather than green.
An amber or red classification indicates firms have incomplete or insufficient information available to plan thoroughly for a no-deal scenario.
The BCC also says it does not believe the impact of a messy and disorderly exit can be fully mitigated.
It says some of the key questions facing businesses depend on negotiation or some level of coordination between the UK and the EU.
Since the referendum, the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has been supporting businesses across the region to prepare for every eventuality.
Acting in the best interests of businesses in the region, the Chamber is amplifying the national calls from the BCC to avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit and says the free Brexit Health Check is an important tool to especially help small and medium sized businesses across the West Midlands to ensure they are prepared and survive, thrive and grow.
The BCC is also calling for government guidance that is “visible, clear, complete, timely and actionable” so as to “address key risks and prepare as much as possible for all scenarios”.
Of the 36 questions that top businesses’ agendas going forward just five have been marked green or adequate.
Most of the questions (21) have been classed as amber – meaning some information is available but gaps remain.
Alarmingly ten questions have been classified as red – meaning little or no concrete information is available to help businesses to plan.
The BCC has called for “significant improvements” to help businesses with their contingency planning.
As discussions continue with the Government the BCC says it will update its ‘traffic lights’ guidance dashboard as the Brexit countdown continues.
The areas where there is most concern relate to the UK successor to the EU Structural Funds, access to an official UK market access database on tariff levels, rules relating to staff transfers between the UK and EU and cross-border trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
These are the areas where the BCC says there is “no clear information on which firms can base their future plans”.
Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “While the government has ramped up communication to businesses in recent weeks, there are still big gaps in the guidance available to help businesses to prepare for Brexit, with just weeks to go until October 31.
“Our business communities don’t want to see a disorderly ‘no-deal’ exit on October 31, which would lead to an overnight change in trading conditions.
“The guidance, information and advice available to businesses is not specific enough to enable firms to plan for an abrupt change.
“Averting a messy and disorderly exit is still critical. Businesses across the UK want politicians on all sides to come together and find a way forward – fast.”
Louise Bennett, Chief Executive, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Don’t let your business get caught out with Brexit.
“We are urging all West Midlands businesses to take the free Business Brexit Health Check – it takes just less than three minutes and could be the key to helping your business to survive, thrive and grow post-Brexit.”
Brexit is coming in
Local support to help West Midlands Businesses prepare for Brexit
West Midlands businesses urged to take a free Business Brexit health check to help them survive, thrive and grow; in an initiative being run across the region led by Coventry and Wawrwickshire Chambers of Commerce with backing from the Government.
In the final days before the UK leaves the EU on October 31 West Midlands businesses are also being invited to attend Business Brexit Support Events throughout October, full details are being announced here.
Experts are also on hand to take phone calls from West Midlands businesses who wish to talk through any issues they are experiencing in the final days before Brexit on October 31 – you can call 02476 654321.
For more information click here.
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