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Government no-deal guidance has "major gaps"

24 September 2019

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published an evaluation of UK government guidance for businesses in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

The BCC has found that, at the time of publication, 31 out of 36 business-critical areas are still marked amber or red, indicating that firms have incomplete or insufficient information to plan thoroughly for a no-deal outcome.

It said it does not believe that the impact of a disorderly exit can be fully mitigated and that some of the key questions facing businesses depend on negotiation or some level of coordination between the UK and the EU.

The government has ramped up the volume of communication and advice around a possible no-deal scenario in recent weeks, however the BCC says significant improvements are needed to allow businesses to make contingency plans.

"The guidance, information and advice available to businesses is not specific enough to enable firms to plan for an abrupt change," said Dr Adam Marshall, BCC director general. "Averting a messy and disorderly exit is still critical. Businesses across the UK want politicians on all sides to come together and find a way forward - fast."

Meanwhile, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has hit out at the government for the "unacceptable situation that they are putting businesses in, the confusion they are causing and the time they are making businesses waste".

Ian Cass, the Forum's chief executive, said: "While we understand the need to prepare for the worst, it is unbelievable that the government sees it as acceptable to encourage business owners to abandon their businesses and attend seminars to discuss the impact of a no-deal Brexit when Parliament has made it abundantly clear that they will not tolerate a no-deal and have ruled it out legally."

Cass added: "While our members have their own views on leave or remain, they expect the government to give direction to businesses on what is likely to happen and when, rather than pursuing a political agenda."

Cass said the government should be helping businesses to prepare for all possible eventualities, with likely issues and timescales. "Just focusing on a no-deal exit with every indication that this will realistically not happen, and furthermore to encourage business owners to position their business strategies towards it, with the inherent costs and disruption, is irresponsible."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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