Four in ten SMEs not ready for Brexit

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
January 29, 2020, 11:51 AM UTC

A similar figure also expect Brexit to have a negative impact on their business

With the UK set to leave the EU on Friday, the results of a new YouGov survey of SME decision makers reveals that most (55%) now feel that their businesses are prepared for Brexit.

Nevertheless, almost four in ten (38%) say they feel unprepared. This figure is higher still among SMEs that import from outside the UK (46%).

It is also higher among SMEs operating in the retail (47%), manufacturing (46%) and IT and telecoms (45%) sectors.

That manufacturers are less likely to feel ready is perhaps unsurprising, given that last week Chancellor Sajid Javid sprang news on them that there would be no alignment with EU manufacturing rules post-Brexit.

This being the case, it is also no surprise to see manufacturing SMEs among the most likely to say the government has done a bad job of keeping businesses informed about its post-Brexit plans (69%).

Among SMEs in general this figure is still as high as 61%, including 39% who say ministers have done a “very bad job”.

Only a quarter (24%) are feeling optimistic about Brexit, saying that they expect it to have a positive impact on business. By contrast, almost four in ten (39%) expect it to be bad for their business, while a further third (34%) seem to believe they will be largely insulated from the effects of Brexit, saying it will have neither a positive nor negative impact.

Such assessments may not be as based on objective business opinion as you might think. How a respondent voted at the EU referendum massively affects their opinion – 60% of Remain voting businesspeople expect Brexit to have a negative impact on their business compared to only 9% of those who voted to Leave.

Photo: Getty

See the full results here