Published: March 4th, 2020
Manufacturers across the Marches are leading the way in planning for the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU, a major new survey has found.
The survey – carried out by Growth Hubs across the West Midlands and involving 17,674 individual businesses – is the biggest of its kind ever carried out among the business community.
A total of 674 businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin took part in the six-week telemarketing campaign, providing a vital insight into how the UK’s EU exit will impact the region’s commercial sector.
It showed that 69.9% (146) of businesses surveyed in Telford & Wrekin have already considered the potential impact of the EU exit on their businesses, compared to 56.7% (110) in Shropshire, and 43.8% (106) in Herefordshire.
Firms in the advanced manufacturing sector were revealed to have taken most action, with 83.9% (78) of businesses in the sector aware of the latest HMRC guidance, compared to 59.6% across all sectors.
Across all sectors, those companies which already traded with the EU had made the most detailed preparations with more than 70 per cent working on their plans for the future.
Out of the 213 businesses trading with Europe, 157 (73.7%) said they had considered the potential consequences of EU exit on their business, whilst 77% (164) had mapped their supplier and customer base and considered how a change in the UK/EU trade relationship could affect them.
Yasmin Sulaman, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership‘s Business Support Project Officer, said the survey had provided vital intelligence about how the business community was responding to the EU exit.
"This campaign has been the largest business intelligence gathering survey ever carried out in the West Midlands. It underlines the value of the cohesive approach taken across all the West Midlands Growth Hubs as well as highlighting the importance of the work we do.
"The number of businesses to have responded was remarkable and 40 per cent asked for further support from the Growth Hubs moving forward.
"Of the 674 businesses surveyed in the Marches, 31.6% reported that they were trading with EU countries and 23.3% with non-EU countries. Over half (56.7%) of all surveyed businesses have considered the potential impact of our EU exit on their business.
"Across the businesses which took part, 24.2% said they employ EU nationals. Only 11.6% do work overseas and 9.8% are partially or wholly owned by an EU organisation. A total of 59.6% of all surveyed Marches businesses reported that they were aware of the latest guidance from HMRC.
"The Marches Growth Hub is here to help businesses in all industries prepare for life outside of the EU and this report has given us the valuable research we need to provide the support which businesses need."
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub was appointed by the Government to lead the work in the region to find out about businesses’ interactions with EU countries and their preparations for EU exit on behalf of the West Midlands Growth Hubs cluster, which includes the Black Country, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Worcestershire and The Marches.
Mrs Sulaman added that it was vital that the data that had been collected was now acted upon for businesses to be as prepared as possible during the transition period ahead of the UK leaving the EU at the end of 2020.
"We have found real value in collaborating with all the Growth Hubs in the West Midlands and feel that it has brought us closer together as a region.
"Through our Growth Hub account managers, we will be contacting the businesses who requested further support to ensure we help to provide the conditions for cohesion, sustainability and growth in the coming months."