Three months into Brexit, half of businesses have faced disruption

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
March 26, 2021, 11:51 AM UTC

The figure rises to four in five businesses among those that do a moderate or large amount of trade with the EU

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement came into effect on 1 January 2021, and so far the verdict from businesses is mixed. A new YouGov survey of 2,046 business decision makers reveals that about half (52%) say their company has faced disruption since the beginning of the year as a result.

This includes one in eight businesses (13%) that have experienced a large amount of disruption. A further one in six (17%) say the impact has been moderate, and a fifth report a small amount of disturbance (22%).

Two in five businesses in the survey do a ‘moderate’ or ‘large’ portion of trade with consumers and companies in the EU. Among this group, four in five (80%) have had issues since the start of the year, including a quarter (27%) who have faced substantial disruption.  

Large businesses are more likely than small and medium sized enterprises to report disruption from the new agreement, at 67% vs 42%.

The impact of Brexit and coronavirus on businesses

Additional research shows that approaching half of businesses (46%) say Brexit will affect them negatively overall. About a third (36%) say it won’t have an impact, and a minority (12%) believe it will benefit them.

Decision makers at companies that routinely trade with the EU take a gloomier view. Most (60%) say things will get worse, while a fifth (22%) expect to remain unaffected, and one in seven (14%) are hopeful that Brexit will have a positive impact.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is having a wider impact, with seven in ten business decision makers (71%) saying it will affect them negatively. Only one in seven (14%) say it will not have any consequences for their company, while 12% believe it will be beneficial.

For how long will the pandemic and Brexit impact businesses?

Most companies impacted by the pandemic and Brexit expect that the former will matter in the short-term, while the implications from the latter will be lengthy.

Three in five businesses that are experiencing positive or negative consequences from the coronavirus crisis (60%) expect a short-term impact. However, negatively impacted companies are more likely to anticipate a brief but big effect (43%) than the group that are benefitting (33%).

Meanwhile, three quarters of decision makers at businesses hampered by Brexit (74%) expect the impact to last for a long time, including 45% who think such impact will be substantial. In contrast, only one in seven companies (14%) expect a small short-term impact.

Only a small minority of businesses point to positives from Brexit. Among this group, half believe they will experience a small (35%) or big (16%) benefit in the short-term. Three in ten (29%) expect it will bring a large and long-term advantage.

See the full results here and here