Business development · 25 October 2018

1 in 3 UK businesses will cut jobs and relocate if Brexit clarity fails to materialise

80% of UK businesses say Brexit has already had a negative effect on their investment decisions

A third of British firms are set to take emergency measures such as slashing jobs and relocating offices if there is no Brexit clarity by November, new survey findings have revealed.

According to new CBI research on business preparations, 39% of firms said they would trigger further contingency plans including redundancies, adjusting supply chains outside the UK, stockpiling goods and relocating production and services overseas.

A quarter said they would take such measures in the absence of greater certainty on Brexit by December, whilst 1 in 5 said the point of no return for triggering their plans has already passed.

Read more about the impact of Brexit on small UK businesses:

The survey also found that 80% of firms said Brexit has had a negative effect on their investment decisions. This included a multinational plastics manufacturer which has cancelled a £7m investment, to a fashion house shelving £50 million plans for a new UK factory.

The CBI described these as “grave losses” to our economy.

 “The situation is now urgent. The speed of negotiations is being outpaced by the reality firms are facing on the ground,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general.

“Unless a Withdrawal Agreement is locked down by December, firms will press the button on their contingency plans. Jobs will be lost, and supply chains moved.”

“The knock-on effect for the UK economy would be significant. Living standards would be affected and less money would be available for vital public services including schools, hospitals and housing.”

Fairbairn said as long as ‘no deal remains a possibility the effect will be ‘corrosive’ for the UK economy, jobs and communities.

“Businesses have displayed remarkable resilience since the Referendum, but patience is now threadbare. Negotiators must secure the Withdrawal Agreement before December to unlock a transition period. The message to politicians on all sides is: ‘your actions will echo through generations’, “Fairbairn said.

The survey also found that 30% of businesses have investigated the opportunities for business growth that may arise out of Brexit but have not found any. However, a fifth have.

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