How to buckle your business down for Brexit

Johnson Reed
3m read

Over 20 months on, and we still don’t have an answer on Brexit. That’s how long it’s been since Theresa May triggered Article 50. And the time since has become something of a pantomime; both sides of government are locked into battle, often putting careers before the real concerns of the British public.

If Brexit politics seems chaotic, however, balance and certainty can be found in UK business. Whether we get a deal or a no deal, you can still prepare for either outcome. Johnson Reed want your organisation to be in the best possible shape by the leave date, so here are some actions to consider…

Plan ahead for export and import tariffs

We buy most of our goods from the EU – in 2015, this was £109bn more than we exported in kind. The UK imports more products and raw materials from the EU than any other customer, but we also export to them with an increasing value in the service economy.

Regardless of  whether you define yourself as a ‘goods’ or ‘services’ business, it’s vital to check how your earning model may pass or fail any new trade checks that will be set up in the wake of a no deal.

Think on the following:

  • Do you trade internationally beyond the EU? How are those foreign trade laws upheld? By meeting the same standards for EU-bound goods or services, you’ll have an advanced position to keep business flowing.
  • Obtain a UK EORI number from HMRC. It will be used for any customs query, tracking your future trade records. You’ll also need to be aware of how to classify your goods.
  • Hire an agent if you don’t know how to affirm and check trade information. Platforms such as HMRC’s Customs Declaration Service are being built for this very purpose. Yet you may want to contact a legislative expert who can serve your declarations when they’re up for scrutiny.
  • Speak to any suppliers that manage your goods. Do they need any more details from you to satisfy their trading contracts?

See if you can benefit from duty relief

British businesses will still be able to access a few relief schemes. They’re designed to help you import and export with the EU, under the rules that currently stand for non-EU clients.

Some of them include outward processing, whereby you transfer materials to one host nation for a short period of time (to be repaired or processed, for instance). Another is customs warehouse VAT relief if you meet certain criteria. There are numerous schemes to pursue – each of them is listed on HMRC’s website.

Examine staffing concerns

Those in the hospitality, retail and health sectors are at the highest risk of suffering from Brexit, in terms of whether their EU national staff members can stay within their workforce. Does this apply to you? If so, remember that it costs £65 for adults to undergo confirmed settlement. Set the money aside and aid your staff in their application process.

Providing the employee has been in the UK for five years – or are planning to stay for that amount of time until and after 31st December 2020 – they’ll retain their ability to work. Ensure their children are registered too; anyone who slips through the cracks may be deported, which will likely take the parents away as well.

All that’s left to say is: don’t rush your preparation strategy. There may only be a few months left until Brexit, yet it pays to be diligent. There’s a fantastic store of resources online for further reading.

Meanwhile, consider short-term loans to assist your financial health. It’s a tough time for many businesses. There’s no harm in finding alternative routes to finance – those you can actually afford – just in case. Speak to Johnson Reed for more details.