Most North West manufacturers not prepared for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit


With just six months to go until Britain leaves the EU, 75%0 of North West manufacturers say that they are currently not prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

And almost half of companies (49%) say they are not prepared and will not be preparing for what would happen if the Government fails to strike an agreement.

New research published today (September 21) by manufacturers’ organisation EEF also shows that 83% believe it is important that Brexit negotiations ensure there are no tariffs on EU goods, and that full access to the single market is retained (81%).

Nationally, the EEF-commissioned ComRes survey of 500 manufacturing business decision makers, including 61 in the North West, finds that one in six say business would become untenable for them if the UK reverted to WTO tariffs, increased border checks on people and increased checks on goods at the border.

A quarter say that as a result of Brexit they have experienced, or are expecting to experience, losing out on investment (23%), losing skilled EU workers (24%) and losing a new contract (27%).

Moreover, 30% of businesses say that they are finding, or expect to find, it more difficult to recruit workers with the necessary skills.

Respondents were uncertain about where future opportunities lie, with 24% not clear what their biggest post-Brexit opportunity will be, but there was a definite appetite to take advantage of new trade possibilities.

The survey showed that businesses see America as the top priority for a new trade deal after Brexit (52%), while 41% are already exploring, or expect to explore, new markets outside the EU.

Manufacturers are, however, clear on their priorities for the Brexit negotiations, with 58% highlighting the need to retain no tariff trade with the EU, and 50% emphasising the importance of retaining full access to the single market.

Respondents also recognised the need for new trade deals outside the EU, with 68% referencing this as a priority.

There is also clear concern about investment, with 21% of respondents having either lost, or expecting to lose out on investment because of Brexit.

Remaining in the Customs Union was seen as important for 71% of those businesses surveyed.

The manufacturing industry accounts for 10% of the UK’s economic output and more than 2.5 million jobs.

EEF chief executive Stephen Phipson said: “Today’s research reinforces the need for manufacturers across the North West, and nationally, to get a deal to ensure they deliver for the UK economy.

“They also desperately require clarity to be able to prepare.

“It is absolutely crucial that an industry that accounts for 10% of the UK’s economic output and almost half of the country’s exports, prepares for exit day and all its possible implications.

“But currently over 80% have no plans to prepare for a scenario such as no-deal.”

He added: “Industry is one of the jewels in the crown for the UK economy and can continue to be post-Brexit.

“It must, however, be given the opportunity to adapt and build in robust Brexit preparations.

“The Chequers deal is a pragmatic and realistic solution which offers a practical way forward. It is now essential that the Prime Minister is given the backing to deliver on it.”