Black Country business community set to be consulted on EU referendum

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A MAJOR new survey is being launched by a collection of business organisations to assess attitudes in the Black Country towards the forthcoming EU referendum.

The Black Country Business Attitudes toward the European Union is being launched at the Business Solutions Centre, University of Wolverhampton Science Park on Friday (January 22).

The survey has been developed in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton, CBI, Birmingham City University, FSB, Black Country LEP and Black Country Chamber of Commerce.

MPs from across the area will join business leaders and others to highlight some of the key issues surround the EU debate.

The West Midlands Economic Forum will oversee the survey after being contacted by Stourbridge MP Margot James. Ms James said the issue was such an important one that it was vital the needs of the Black Country’s business community were considered.

The survey will be sent to private businesses from all sectors across the Black Country with the intention of gathering opinion and comment on the appetite for remaining in the EU. Questions will cover export and import and there is an opportunity for comment, including benefits, restrictions and suggestions for reform. The survey is intended to offer a politically unbiased platform for opinion.

Friday’s event will feature an introductory speech from economist Paul Forrest, followed by short speeches by Margot James, Wolverhampton South East MP, Pat McFadden and Will Corbett, Policy and Lobbying, Black Country Chamber of Commerce.

Findings from the survey will be published in early March 2016.

The survey is launched as a new study suggests the export growth and profitability of SMEs in the West Midlands could be derailed by exchange rate volatility ahead of the EU referendum.

Currency experts World First, which has completed the study, has also suggested that currency confusion is leaving many firms dangerously exposed to ongoing currency volatility due to a lack of preparedness and a knowledge gap.
The survey found that despite 70% of Midlands-based SMEs fearing that currency volatility from the EU referendum would impact their business, 43% were failing to take any notice of foreign exchange markets and believed that having a currency strategy was not important.

The research also revealed the extent to which Midlands-based SMEs remain dangerously exposed to currency fluctuations with 46% admitting they have been caught out by a sudden movement in exchange rates and 29% having been severely impacted by market volatility.