What do UK businesses think of May’s Brexit deal?

What do UK businesses think of May’s Brexit deal?

Accountex has provided the statistics from one of their most recent surveys on Brexit

In January 2019, Accountex conducted a survey with 264 respondents, all accounting and finance professionals from businesses across the UK. The survey was solely concerned with Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, and their opinions of it.

“What form that action should take is less clear cut, with almost half wanting the UK to remain in the EU and the rest split between ‘no deal’ and various trade deal options.”

Rather worryingly – but also unsurprisingly – 96% of respondents revealed that they favoured various other alternatives to May’s proposed EU exit deal.

“We surveyed over 260 professionals from the accounting and finance sector, and the sentiment was very clear: much like the MPs in parliament, an overwhelming majority reject Theresa May’s Brexit plan,” said Ian Moss, editor at Accountex.

Accountex stated: “Of those surveyed, 59% of accounting professionals think that a no deal Brexit will have a negative impact on their business and 58% of accountants in practice believe no deal will have a negative impact on their clients’ businesses.”

“However, when asked whether the government and HMRC has provided sufficient information about Brexit to enable them to provide the desired strategic guidance to their clients or businesses, 88% of accounting professionals stated it has been inadequate.”

Accountex revealed that, whilst 48% of respondents wish to remain in the EU, 21% look to trading on WTO through leaving with no deal.

Only 4% of those who responded to the survey admitted to backing May’s current Withdrawal Agreement.

Furthermore, 9% highlighted the benefits of the implementation of a Canada-style trade deal, and 8% considered the Norway plus option—the UK joining EEA and having the additional benefits of the customs union.

Again, perhaps surprisingly, only 5% of respondents believed that a second referendum would be the best course of action.

Moss added: “With March 29 drawing ever closer, it is no surprise that one-third of respondents to our survey have reported an increase in the number of clients turning to them to provide guidance about Brexit in recent months.”

It is now only nine days until the Brexit date, with a deal still yet to be agreed. Is it at all possible now for one to be agreed upon and established in time?

74% of respondents are concerned about the increasing reality of a no deal Brexit; 59% of them believe no deal should be avoided at all costs.

Accountex continued: “However, when asked whether the government and HMRC has provided sufficient information about Brexit to enable them to provide the desired strategic guidance to their clients or businesses, 88% of accounting professionals stated it has been inadequate.”

“The UK could be facing changes to tariffs and quotas on EU imports and exports, as well as all the VAT implications, but it is not yet clear what form there will take—or whether they will happen at all.”

Pair this, then, with the fact that 33% of accountants in practice have revealed that they have seen a notable increase in the number of clients turning to them for advice on the various risks posed by Brexit. Accountants are under pressure from their clients when they, too, are equally uncertain of what the future holds.

“Technological advances mean that the role of accountants is moving from compliance towards advisory—and, in 2019, that often takes the form of advising businesses regarding Brexit planning,” Moss explained.

“With March 29 growing ever closer, it is no surprise that one-third of respondents to our survey have reported an increase in the number of clients turning to them to provide guidance about Brexit in recent months.

“However, it is concerning that a majority of accounting professionals felt that they had inadequate information to allow them to give their clients and businesses the desired support.”

“Clarity is urgently needed to enable UK businesses and the finance professionals who advise them to put in place effective contingency plans.”

For 40% of respondents, Brexit has impacted their business planning decisions, whether that has been through making less ambitious revenue forecasts (19%), holding off from investing (17%), contingency planning for a no deal scenario (16%), or assessing the risks posed by each potential outcome (15%).

Moss said: “The UK could be facing changes to tariffs and quotas on EU imports and exports, as well as all the VAT implications, but it is not yet clear what form there will take—or whether they will happen at all.”

Nonetheless, contingency planning of any kind takes a level of certainty, resources, and the time to invest in exploring all the possibilities. These are things that not all UK businesses have at their disposal.

“Clarity is urgently needed to enable UK businesses, and the finance professionals who advise them, to put in place effective contingency plans,” Moss concluded.

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