Published: 09:56, 15 April 2019
| Updated: 09:57, 15 April 2019
Confidence in the economy is decreasing amid the on-going uncertainty over Brexit, according to the results of the latest survey by a leading law firm.
Thomson Snell & Passmore, which has offices in Tunbridge Wells and Dartford, has been conducting its 'Brexit Barometer' since the referendum in June 2016.
It gauges reaction to the Brexit process by polling 140 businesses across key sectors in UK.
And its results for December 2018 to March 2019 reveal 58% of respondents said they are not confident at all about the economy in the next 12 months.
This was a significant increase from the response in November 2018, where only 42% of respondents shared this sentiment.
Once again, the consensus among all is businesses are waiting for clear guidance on what is going to happen next.
A new survey question posed in the last four months asked businesses if they had started preparations for a 'no deal' Brexit.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the failure to reach agreement in the House of Commons, there has been a month-on-month increase, since December 2018, in the number of respondents who answered ‘yes’ to the question: 37%, 41%, 44% and 49% respectively.
However, the results also revealed around 40% of respondents, month-on-month, have not initiated preparations for such an eventuality, leaving businesses exposed to the potential consequences of no deal.
Despite the uncertainty, over 90% of respondents consistently answer they would not change their vote if there was another referendum
In April 2019, the law firm hosted a panel event aimed at examining the Brexit impact on the agriculture and rural sector; 80 representatives from the sector were surveyed for their views on Brexit.
The firm had initially surveyed this sector in October 2017. Confidence in the economy had not changed amongst the agricultural industry in the last two years, with 45% of those surveyed indicating that they were quite confident in the strength of the UK’s economy in the next 12 months.
Those surveyed were also confident Brexit would offer the UK a greater ability to produce free trade deals with other countries (65% and 53% in April 2019 and October 2017 respectively).
However, in 2017, 34% of attendees saw export opportunities as a main benefit of Brexit. Whereas this year only 6% still held this view.
The question was also posed to the audience as to who would vote for a second referendum. 53% voted for a second referendum to 47% against, indicative of the delicate balance any way forward for Brexit requires.
Commenting on the latest statistics from the Brexit Barometer, Joanne Gallagher, partner and head of the corporate team at Thomson Snell & Passmore, said: “As we continue to take the pulse on how the impact of Brexit is being perceived by UK businesses, we have seen that despite watching the tense political negotiations play out in a very public way, respondents’ answers in the Brexit Barometer survey have across the board been quite consistent when compared month-on-month.
"With the uncertainty around when we will officially depart from the EU, UK businesses will be increasingly looking for clear guidance from its government. Our Brexit Barometer shows that business leaders are optimistic about accessing their supply chains after we exit the EU and that they would not vote differently if there were another Brexit referendum.
"Nevertheless, it is advisable that business owners and operators start looking at their current supply chain, access to goods/services as well as access to talent. Businesses should be putting plans in place now to ensure they are as prepared as possible, regardless of the outcome.”
Read more: For all the latest on Brexit and Kent
Read more: For all the latest business news for Kent