The Brexit process is leaving businesses in the South West reluctant to plan for growth, uncertain about their futures and feeling abandoned by central Government, a new study has shown.
Researchers at the University of Plymouth conducted a series of interviews and focus groups to provide a unique picture of the Brexit pressures facing the region.
Over several months, they spoke to business, local government and charity leaders, covering industries from transport to tourism, fishing to farming.
The hope was that having a clearer understanding of the challenges could help to provide a collective means of helping to overcome some of the specific issues being faced.
The findings, published in a report released today, reveal the continued lack of national clarity over Brexit – and in particular the prospect of a no deal – is causing great uncertainty among the region’s businesses and making potential trading partners difficult to find.
A lack of targeted guidance and support from central Government is also exacerbating that uncertainty, particularly for the hundreds of small businesses across the South West.
The report does reveal some sectors, such as professional services, have been largely insulated from any negative impacts and certain groups, including tourism and hospitality, which are more positive about the potential opportunities Brexit may bring.
However, there is general scepticism over the ability of the UK to benefit from any opportunities for new trading relationships that may emerge from Brexit, and a call for proactive strategies to develop an understanding of potential trading partners and the need for long-term relationships.
Many of those spoken to also feared Brexit would exacerbate existing economic and social problems, with significant concerns over its impact on the labour market and workforce relations.