How businesses in Leeds are preparing for uncertainty of Brexit

Companies in Leeds are concerned at how continued uncertainty around Brexit is leading to a fall in business investment and and increase in stockpiling of goods.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 11:45 am

That’s according to a Leeds City Council document looking into the possible impacts of Brexit on the local economy, which added that small to medium sized businesses could be less likely to be prepared for any knock on effects of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

It also suggested that continued media speculation on possible Brexit scenarios was causing “further uncertainty” for individuals and businesses who were trying to plan for the future.

The details were all contained within a document entitled: “Update on Leeds City Council’s preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union”, set to be discussed by councillors next week.

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It follows the recent decision from the UK to extend the deadline for Brexit to January 31, 2020. It is not yet known what the terms of the UK’s departure will be.

The document read: “The council continues to be as prepared as possible given the information and resources available, but the continued uncertainty, with a further extension recently granted remains a challenge because of the lack of clarity and therefore limits fully effective planning.

It later added: “At the time of this report’s publication, there remains significant uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with the EU in the near future. All these scenarios continue to be explored extensively in the media, creating further uncertainty and making it difficult for citizens, organisations and businesses to plan for the future.”

The document claimed feedback to council officers from their most recent business round table meeting includes “continued uncertainty is leading to a fall in investment and increase in stockpiling by firms”, as well as “concerns around the increase in the number and complexity of import and export

declarations that are required by Brexit”, adding that “there were also doubts that all firms were fully aware that they would need to complete these”.

It added: “Larger firms are more likely to be prepared, whereas amongst SMEs the picture is more mixed.”

The report claims that, according to a recent West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce economic report, manufacturing was “particularly affected with significant slowdown in sales and investment”. It added that the service sector, which represents 80 per cent of businesses was “proving to be more resilient” but still saw “slowing sales, reduced investment and lower profit expectations”.

The Leeds council report added: “Significant concerns continue about the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and with a reduction in confidence and investment throughout all sectors.”

The council report is set to be discussed by Leeds City Council’s executive board on Monday, November 25.