East Devon businesses in real life ‘deal or no deal’ over Brexit

PUBLISHED: 13:53 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:58 05 March 2019

Brexit flags. Picture: Getty Images

Brexit flags. Picture: Getty Images


So, what happens to East Devon’s small businesses after March 29? The short answer – unless something highly unlikely has happened since this edition went to press – is that no one knows.

Local enterprise partnership

Heart of the South West, the local enterprise partnership (LEP) for East Devon has remained coy over the impact of Brexit on traders.

However the LEP says it is ‘here to help’ and has created a set of resources for businesses to help them plan for the ‘various scenarios they may face’ through its ‘growth hub’.

David Hynd, programme and partnership manager of the growth hub said: “As well as offering advice for start-ups, we can also offer one-to-one business reviews and support for scaling up. We continually update our Brexit resources when new information becomes available.”

David Ralph, CEO of Heart of the South West said: “Our Heart of the South West Growth Hub has published a set of resources from the government and public and private sector organisations to help businesses plan for the various scenarios they may face.”

Go to www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk or telephone 03456 047 047.

Businesses are in differing states of readiness for the possible scenarios.

Some are stockpiling in case there is serious disruption to the supply chain. Some are adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude.

Unless a delay is agreed on both sides of the Channel, on March 29 Article 50 will be triggered and the UK will no longer be part of the European Union (EU).

In the meantime various parties are angling for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, a ‘no-no-deal’ Brexit or a second referendum, or ‘People’s Vote’ – though what the question should be is a further debate.

Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire wrote in a recent column that this is ‘not going to happen’ as it would only lead to ‘more uncertainty’.

‘Uncertainty’ is certainly something we currently have in abundance.

Would a ‘no deal’ improve that situation?

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is encouraging businesses to take three steps in preparation for no deal.

Business owners should get an economic operator and registraton identification number (EORI), consider how they want to make customs declarations and, if they import from the EU, register for new transitional simplified procedures (TSPs).

Locally, East Devon trade leaders say they would need a ‘crystal ball’ to predict the effects of Brexit on traders.

Exmouth Chamber of Commerce chairman Ian MacQueen said ‘no deal’ would negatively impact on business

He suggested that businesses, where they can, stockpile materials as a way of stopping them being held up at customs.

Honiton chamber chairman Tony McCollom said this is not something ‘truly contemplated’ by its members, adding: “There is no doubt that trans-national agreements and boarder controls will have some effect on the manufacture and distribution of raw materials and finished products.

“Large national organisations may consider such things as stockpiling, relocations and bi-located businesses but these are not matters truly contemplated by our members.”

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