The British Chambers of Commerce has published an evaluation of government guidance to businesses on critical operational issues in the event of an unwanted ‘no deal’ exit on 31 October. BCC has found that, at the time of publication, 31 of 36 business-critical areas are still marked amber or red, indicating that firms have incomplete or insufficient information available to plan thoroughly for a ‘no deal’ outcome. BCC does not believe that the impact of a messy and disorderly exit can be fully mitigated. Some of the questions facing businesses depend on negotiation or some level of co-ordination between the UK and the EU. However, wherever possible, businesses need government guidance that is visible, clear, complete, timely and actionable to address key risks and prepare as much as possible for all scenarios. Of the 36 questions most frequently raised by companies, the leading business group’s assessment is that:
- 5 are marked green – the top rating for available information based on our quality criteria;
- 21 are amber – indicating that some information is available, but there are gaps and/or other quality issues still to be addressed;
- 10 are red – indicating little or no concrete information is available to help businesses to plan.
While government has noticeably ramped up the volume of communication, advice and engagement around a possible ‘no deal’ scenario in recent weeks, significant improvements are still needed to the level of detail and specificity in order to assist business contingency planning. On issues such as 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, there is no clear information on which firms can base their future plans. The research is not an assessment of the economic impact of a no-deal exit, or a judgement on the desirability of the policy change in each case. Instead, it is intended to evaluate whether official guidance is clear enough for business decision-making and forward planning. Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (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 31st. Our business communities don’t want to see a disorderly ‘no deal’ exit on October 31st, 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.” Further information on help and advice in relation to Brexit is available on this website here. Ends Notes to editors: The British Chambers of Commerce has evaluated the quality of official guidance against these criteria: clarity, completeness, visibility, timeliness and how actionable is the information businesses can use to prepare for change. ‘Green’ indicates that official guidance scores well across all of these dimensions, ‘Red’ that it scores poorly across all and ‘Amber’ that it is mixed – with some quality elements but with gaps and / or other quality issues to address. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) sits at the heart of a powerful network of 53 Accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes and within all sectors. Our Global Business Network connects exporters with over 50 markets around the world. For more information, visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk