The Heart of the South West Brexit Resilience and Opportunities Group (BROG) has commissioned a survey of 29 businesses across the HotSW area of Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay to gather their views on the effects of Brexit. It was jointly funded by the Heart of the South West LEP and Devon County Council. The full survey is available here.
Key messages coming out of the research are that uncertainty continues to be the overwhelming view; there are positive views on the opportunities for tourism; and that isolation from markets and access to European workforce are key reasons for concern.
Despite this uncertainty, most respondents expressed optimism about the next two years as most have experience growth in sales and employment over the preceding 18 months.
The reasons for optimism are growth trajectories and investment; not being dependent on EU markets; confidence in demand for their product services and confidence in the opportunities presented by Brexit. The nine respondents who expressed neutrality or pessimism over Brexit cited uncertainty over the final Brexit deal and supply chain issues such as increased cost of imports.
The telephone survey of 29 prominent local businesses provided some qualitative understanding of how businesses are feeling about, and preparing for, Brexit. The businesses in the survey represented ten different sectors. Most of the businesses have their main UK site in the HotSW area, which illustrates that business decisions are made locally and impact locally.
BROG Chair and Chief Executive of Devon County Council, Phil Norrey, said: “This group is and valuable resource to measure the concerns and the opportunities that local businesses are facing beyond Brexit.
“It’s important that we get a local view so that we can feed back through the Local Enterprise Partnership and the Local Authorities what measures need to be in place in terms of policy making and business support to help our local companies survive and thrive after we leave the EU.
“These results are just a snapshot they do provide a useful pulse check on the sentiment across a range of industries and scales of employment.”
Steve Hindley, CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Brexit is perhaps the most important issue facing many businesses, so addressing its impact is crucial the action plan of our Productivity Strategy to generate economic prosperity.”
Another survey in early 2019 just before the UK leaves the EU, and the group is keen to receive anecdotal evidence about the expected impact of Brexit on business. Businesses can contact Hattie Winter for more information at: Hattie.firstname.lastname@example.org