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East Midlands Chamber News

Snapshot Survey Will Help Shape a Great Future

Business confidence remained high immediately following June’s Brexit vote, according to a snapshot survey carried out by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire).

Many respondents said they saw opportunities arising from the nation’s decision to leave the EU but they needed greater clarity over the exit path being taken by Government.

Others said they had no long-term plans to curtail investment, although some said decisions would be deferred.

The biggest single fear expressed was the fall in the value of the pound, but most respondents said they were happy with the efforts of the Bank of England to reduce the impact of the slide.

But while the survey, a fuller version of which can be read here, found that firms were largely confident about their own prospects, some were less positive about what the future holds for the regional and national economy.

Key Findings of the Survey

  • Businesses confidence for the long-term was dented, however, businesses were less likely to be pessimistic about their own futures than they were for the wider region or the country.
  • Businesses lacked clarity on a number of key issues, reinforcing the point that preparations and planning in the event of a vote to leave to EU were poor.
  • The value of the pound was the number one issue, with businesses taking reassurance from the response of the Bank of England over the summer.
  • Businesses were more likely to revise plans for recruitment, investment and broader growth downwards, rather than upwards, although a significant proportion paused or froze plans with no revisions.

The strongest message to come from the survey was that business needs greater clarity on what the value of the pound is likely to be when the dust settles, what the rules will be for trading with EU and non-EU countries, how EU regulations will be enforced in UK law and the future immigration status of EU employees.

What would happen to EU funding for projects was also an area of concern, but Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, last month made clear that where EU funding might end for long-term projects, the Government would ensure continued funding.

Chris Hobson“This snapshot of the mood of East Midlands business immediately after the exit vote is quite revealing,” said Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at the Chamber.

“The results from the survey give a steer to the Chamber, Government and other stakeholders on the types of action that businesses now require and the manner in which they should be delivered.

“Government needs to work closely with business to ensure that activity during Brexit negotiations remains relevant and responsive not just in terms of future trading with the EU but also with global markets where the UK will have to develop agreements.

“The Chamber believes there is a real opportunity to define what a successful UK economy outside of the EU should look like and to this end it is launching a campaign to ‘Shape a Great Future for the East Midlands’.

“Part of that campaign will be to roll out a series of activities to support businesses during the Brexit process so that they are not held back by uncertainty and can exploit new opportunities.

It is now more important than ever that the Chamber works closely with its MPs and other stakeholders – both locally and in Westminster – to ensure that the experience of business forms a central tenet of the Brexit work being undertaken.

Of the 148 regional businesses that responded to the survey, 41% sold goods and/or services into the EU and 44% bought goods and/or services from the EU.

Respondents came from all sectors, with professional or business services accounting for 24% and manufacturing 21%.

Size of firms was well represented too with 42% of respondents being businesses with fewer than ten employees, 31% between 10-49, 20% between 50-249 and seven per cent over 250 employees.