Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that unless there is a “fundamental change of approach” by the EU then Britain will exit its post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year without a trade deal, as he sought to increase pressure on EU leaders to give ground.
Responding to the comments made by the Prime Minister, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “Not only have small firms been hit by the most severe recession on record over the past six months, they’re now ten weeks out from the end of the transition period with no clear sense of what our future relationship with the EU will look like.
“They’re being told to both prepare and simultaneously manage a fresh set of Covid restrictions. Many simply don’t have the time or money to make adjustments, even if they want and need to.
“And they don’t even know what they’re preparing for – the Government is essentially saying get ready for a no-deal outcome even though a deal could still happen.
“More than four years on from the referendum, clarity is needed now more than ever. A pro-business, ambitious trade agreement remains the best outcome. The more changes can be phased in over time the better, particularly in the current climate.
“The last time we were told to prepare for a no-deal scenario you saw a big uptick in stockpiling. There simply isn’t the cash or staff capacity to make that possible this time round, with a lot of employees still furloughed amid weak demand.
“It’s been encouraging to hear the Government confirm that the latest deal draft reflects our call for a dedicated small business chapter. But there again, we have no clarity around what that chapter actually looks like.
“A lot of small businesses have shelled out thousands to make their premises safe at a time when they had little or no revenue coming in only to be told to close. If the Government wants firms to step-up preparations for a new relationship with the EU it needs to make doing so financially viable. At the moment, thousands of small businesses are running on near empty.”
You can get the latest advice on help as the transition period comes to an end, by clicking through to the FSB Transition Hub.