More than eight in 10 business owners believe Brexit will have a long-term negative impact on trading with almost half reporting a hit from the UK’s exit from the European Union at the turn of this year, a survey conducted for i has found.
Conducted six months after Brexit, the survey of firms by tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg also found that 80 per cent of respondents found the Covid-19 pandemic has hit firms harder than Brexit, but that in the longer term the ending of free trade with the EU will have a more detrimental effect.
Alex Altmann, head of the Brexit advisory team at Blick Rothenberg, said: “While 47 per cent of the responders said that the first six months after Brexit had either a negative or very negative impact to their business, close to 80 per cent said the disruptions due to the pandemic had an even more negative impact to their business than Brexit.
“However, over 80 per cent of responders also said that in the longer-term, Brexit will have a negative impact overall and their expectation is that the UK economy will shrink due to the Brexit deal.”
More than half of businesses said revenue had either declined or strongly declined due to Brexit, and just under 45 per cent said they experienced a loss or a significant loss in the last six months since the UK left the EU.
Mr Altmann added: “The main reasons for this seem to be complying with the complicated new customs rules (65 per cent) and new VAT rules (50 per cent). But operational challenges, like new administrative burdens, additional taxes and duties (51 per cent) and difficulties recruiting staff (40 per cent) were also considered some of the main disrupters.”
The survey also found 81 per cent of firms believe the UK Government should allow more EU citizens to live and work in the UK.
“This reflects the devastating impact the new immigration rules have had to UK employers, who struggle to recruit qualified staff in various sectors of the economy,” said Altmann.
The poll also asked businesses how well the Government had supported them since 1 January, with two thirds saying it had been unsupportive or very unsupportive. More than 80 per cent added they had found it challenging or very hard to find out about specific legislation related to Brexit.
Mr Altmann said: “Given that Brexit is the biggest economic reform in over 50 years, these responses are a bruising reality check for the Brexit information campaign. The business community seems to have lost trust in how the Government is dealing with Brexit and something will have to change over the next months to help businesses recover.”