Getting Brexit ready in climate of uncertainty

Kirsty McManus, national director, Institute of Directors (IoD) Northern Ireland. Press Eye/Darren Kidd
Kirsty McManus, national director, Institute of Directors (IoD) Northern Ireland. Press Eye/Darren Kidd
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As 31st October draws ever closer, it seems that hope of a Brexit deal being struck ebbs further and further away, writes Kirsty McManus.

The mood music doesn’t sound good and while talks at the European Union summit this week will likely finally determine whether or not an agreement can be reached between the UK government and the EU before the Brexit deadline, many observers would suggest the writing has already been on that particular wall for quite some time.

Whatever the outcome of the crunch talks, this Saturday’s special sitting of the UK Parliament will be hugely significant.

The ongoing wranglings over accepting a deal, pushing for ‘no deal’ or extending the process have, to this point, resulted in an already uncertain atmosphere snowballing and as our members and others tell us, uncertainty is not good for business.

Take the most recent official productivity figures for an example.

These showed a 0.5 per cent decline across the UK in the second quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2018.

For a measure that is already struggling, the figures provide further evidence of the detrimental impact uncertainty is having at the coalface of business.

Unsure of what lies around the corner, even just a few weeks away, businesses’ investment in the new equipment and technology that drives up their performance has been significantly stifled.

Many companies are also trimming their investment pipelines for the year ahead to build up a cash cushion in anticipation of challenging economic conditions ahead.

As organisations continue to grapple with these everyday business decisions, we want to help make that process as easy as possible.

That is why we recently launched our Brexit Ready NI initiative, a major roll out of free advice services across the country on a completely unprecedented scale.

Through tailored advice clinics, workshops and webinars, we are working with organisations across all sectors and in every part of Northern Ireland to help with their Brexit preparations, come what may.

Whether it is looking issues such as how to prepare for a ‘no deal’, employment and immigration considerations or getting ready for any changes in the tax and customs landscape, there is much work to be done for businesses to prepare.

With the right guidance, there is still time and even work that relates to preparing for a ‘no deal’ – which is of course the last scenario we want – will have a significantly positive impact on businesses regardless of the Brexit outcome.