How can SMEs prepare for Brexit?

With the uncertainty of Brexit still looming over us, we offer SMEs some simple advice to prepare for the possible implications.

Brexit has been dragging on for two and a half years, with the vote to leave the EU taking place back in the summer of 2016. It was never going to be an easy process to disentangle the UK from decades of EU legislation, but the current impasse in parliament and the lack of agreeance about where we’re heading next has led to great uncertainty for businesses – something of concern to us all.

There is little talk both in parliament and in the media of how SMEs are likely to be affected, but due to how much SMEs dominate both the public and private sector, the outcome of Brexit is of major significance to businesspeople and employees throughout the UK.

SMEs: smaller companies, big business

In the UK, there are some 5.7m SMEs, accounting for over 99% of private sector firms and 60% of total UK private sector employment. SMEs also account for 73% of all net private sector job creation in the UK, creating about 2m jobs since 2010.

SMEs are, therefore, a hugely important part of our economy. But with uncertainty over Brexit continuing – including the news that Theresa May has written to the European Council to ask for a three-month delay to Brexit – what can be done to prepare for the consequences we already know about?

Preparation is key, particularly in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Driving in the EU

If your business involves driving to and from the EU, then you need to be prepared for changes that could happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

  • Drivers are being urged to contact their insurer to arrange a ‘green card’ for driving a UK-registered vehicle in the EU, which would be required under EU regulations as proof of insurance in the event of a no-deal.
  • If you are planning to drive abroad on business trips, a no-deal Brexit will cause changes to the type of international driving permit (IDP) that some countries accept. This means that UK citizens must possess both a UK driving licence and the correct IDP to drive in EU and EEA countries. For more guidance on finding the right IDP, see the GOV.UK website guidance.
  • If you are a UK driving licence holder that is currently living in the EU or EEA, it’s important to exchange your UK licence for a local EU licence before 29th March 2019.

Supply chains

It may be that Brexit causes issues – at least in the short-term – for many SMEs, including those who export goods internationally or order stock from overseas. Business owners may be worried about costs, paperwork and product turnaround/delivery.

There are still no definitive answers on how any of these things are going to be affected by leaving the EU.  As a result, some businesses have taken to stockpiling items to ensure their supply chains are not disrupted or subject to increased duties and tariffs, for example.

In these circumstances, it is best to make sure that your sums insured are adequate to cover any increased levels of stock you have on your premises.

Further advice

In many ways, at this stage, all you can do is try and prepare the best you can. With this in mind, you can follow the latest government advice on Brexit and what you can do to ensure your business is ready for whatever outcome Brexit brings at https://www.gov.uk/business-uk-leaving-eu.