Published: 08:59, 27 September 2019
| Updated: 09:00, 27 September 2019
Only just over one in ten small firms in the south east believe a 'no deal' Brexit will have a positive impact on their business, according to the latest survey.
On the flip side, the research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals 43% think crashing out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement on October 31 will negatively impact them.
Nationally, among those small firms that believe a 'no deal' scenario will negatively impact them (39%), only one in five (21%) have planned or prepared for anticipated issues. Nearly two thirds (63%) don’t think they are able to plan.
The FSB says preparations for a 'no deal' Brexit has come with a high price with the average cost for businesses that have prepared, coming in at around £2,000.
That average cost rises to £3,000 for smaller businesses that export and import.
Just under one third (31%) of prepared small businesses have stockpiled ahead of the October 31 exit date Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to, while 34% report temporarily or permanently reduced profitability.
Just under half (46%) of these firms, along with those that plan to prepare for no deal over the next few weeks, think that the volatility in the pound has negatively impacted their business.
Perhaps not suprisingly, almost half (46%) of small businesses, that believe they will be negatively impacted by a 'no deal' scenario, would welcome some form of financial support.
In response to the findings, FSB national chairman, Mike Cherry, renewed calls for the provision of financial assistance such as vouchers worth up to £3,000 to assist with preparing for a potential 'no deal' scenario, including supporting small firms in reaching new global markets.
Given the number of small businesses unable to take specific actions to prepare, he also called for wide-reaching measures in an early budget to boost small business cash flow. These include a temporary reduction in VAT, an uprating of the employment allowance, an expansion of HMRC time-to-pay arrangements and extending the two-year ‘retailers’ business rates discount of 33%, to a wider range of smaller businesses.
He said: "As the risk of a chaotic 'no deal' Brexit on October 31 remains alive and kicking, it is worrying that many small firms have either not prepared or are finding that they can’t prepare.
“Ongoing uncertainty is to blame for preparations hitting the skids with the picture still not clear as to how the UK will leave the EU on October 31. Until we get clarity, small firms must prepare for the cliff edge where possible, and make preparations for a 'no deal' Brexit.
“Preparing for this outcome is coming at a high price though with small firms being hit by an unstable pound and having to shell out money on a potential outcome that has been highly disruptive, remains uncertain and is unwanted.
"Government must use what little time is left before October 31 to provide small firms with the support they need to navigate the unchartered and turbulent waters of a 'no deal' Brexit.
“Raising awareness is important, but not enough. The government must also turn to meaningful financial support. This is desperately needed and would certainly provide a much needed shot in the arm for those firms that have already spent money preparing."