Evidence suggesting that many Leicestershire businesses might not be prepared for the end of the EU Exit transition period has led to calls to action from local community leaders.
Port worker oversees incoming contrainers. Photo: Online Media Library.
After officially leaving the EU earlier this year, Britain’s transition period officially ends on January 1, 2021, bringing with it a raft of new rules that will apply to businesses from that date.
The Local Resilience Forum (LRF) though is concerned that many Leicestershire and Rutland businesses have been so focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, that EU Exit has slipped off their radar completely.
“The last thing Leicestershire needs is further disruption and confusion in our business community in the New Year. This can be prevented by taking action now, but time is running out. Bev Smith, Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council
Businesses need to have information and complete a checklist at www.gov.uk/transition, to understand what they need to do to be prepared.
The ‘time is running out’ call comes after only eight per cent of the county’s businesses identified EU Exit as a major obstacle on their horizon in a recent phone survey organised by Leicestershire County Council.
Bev Smith, Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council, chairs the countywide LRF working group tasked with supporting the region to be prepared for EU Exit. Bev said: “It is a concern for us that January 1 will come round very quickly and businesses won’t be ready for it.
“It’s completely understandable that attentions are elsewhere – it’s been a tough year for businesses and we’re in the middle of our second national lockdown. Unfortunately though this doesn’t change the fact that the transition period will end in a matter of weeks, and our businesses simply have to be ready.
“The last thing Leicestershire needs is further disruption and confusion in our business community in the New Year. This can be prevented by taking action now, but time is running out.
“This is a plea from us to use the Government’s tools and information to check your businesses is prepared, and if you need further help our local authorities stand ready to support you.”
The Government’s www.gov.uk/transition is being signposted as the site for businesses to visit to understand the actions they need to undertake to ensure they are prepared.
Some of the key points businesses need to be aware of include:
New customs procedures that will affect goods sold to the EU
Visas or work permits may now apply for business travel to EU destinations
The new immigration system may impact overseas nationals working for local firms
Businesses that receive personal data from contacts in the EEA may need to take extra steps to ensure that the data can continue to flow legally
Ensure qualifications that allow businesses to practice or service clients in the EU are recognised by EU regulations.
Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Board of Directors, said: “We’re doing as much as we can to support our businesses to be ready for EU Exit in time for 1 January.
“Through our Business Gateway Growth Hub service we’ve been running one to one support sessions and webinars to give tailored and in-depth advice to those that need help – and these will continue to be run on a weekly basis.
“Local authorities are reaching out to businesses too, offering their support and advice. The bottom line is though that only businesses owners themselves can take the steps required to prepare – and the time to act is now.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is working on the Brexit negotiations as well as the Coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Downing Street Press Office.
LRF leaders say that by preparing now, the impact on local trade and therefore the local economy will be kept to a minimum in January.
Bev Smith added: “We’re not expecting the end of the transition to cause major issues if we are collectively prepared for it.
“It’s a big ask for businesses to divert their focus away from Covid-19 to address EU Exit – and we wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t essential.
“By working together we will be ready for January 1 – please take advantage of the local support available and see Leicestershire and Rutland safely negotiate the end of the transition period.”
EU Exit Business checklist
If as a business owner, the answer to any of the following is yes, then your business probably needs to take action to be ready for the end of the EU Exit transition period.
It is recommended business owners initially visit www.gov.uk/transition to find out more about what the need to do to prepare.
Do you employ any EU nationals?
Do you employ any UK nationals who work in the EU?
Do you have staff who regularly travel to the EU for work?
Do you sell products to customers in the EU?
Do you buy products from suppliers in the EU?
Are any of your export deliveries timebound with penalties?
Do you provide any services or advice to EU customers?
Do you receive personal data from the EU/EAA?
Do you have an EU web domain?
Do spend large amounts on supplies or services from the EU?
Do you have a bank account in the EU?
Do you have non-EU clients that might now face import duties?
Do you have exchange services in place to protect against currency fluctuation?
One to one webinar support
Business Gateway Growth Hubs in Leicestershire and Rutland are offering one to one support sessions to provide businesses with the opportunity to identify and address vulnerabilities unique to individual business operating models.
Discussions can cover:
Customs declarations and documentation
Supporting EU nationals you employ
How to address customs valuations for imported goods
Checking commodity codes and the new Global Tariff
Regulations and licensing affecting goods
Applicable country of origin protocols
Overview of existing Continuity and Mutual Recognition Agreements to help ensure frictionless trade
Trading under preference
Analysis of supply chain and mitigating risk