A survey of businesses conducted by Chambers of Commerce across the North-west has shown the scale of impact of Brexit on the region.
According to the Covid-19 and Brexit Impact Tracker survey conducted between 18th January and 2nd February by British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), businesses have seen a sharp decrease in demand in the fourth quarter of 2020, similar to levels seen in the height of the first national lockdown in June last year.
The survey showed North-west businesses have seen reduced demand, both from UK and international customers, with demand at its lowest since the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. The region’s businesses have also reported weakened cash positions, with 48% having taken on debt to maintain cash flow during the pandemic. As a result, prospects for capital investment and recruitment remain weak in the short term.
On Brexit, the survey sought to understand the extent to which businesses found it easy or difficult to adapt to changes to trade with European neighbours. Three-quarters of businesses currently trading with EU markers reported difficulties in preparing for new rules, with 15% of those businesses scaling down trade with the bloc.
Chris Fletcher, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:
The third national lockdown has stifled both the supply and demand sides of the economy. It is almost 11 months since the first lockdown was imposed to address the public health crisis. Over that time, many businesses have scaled down and reduced workforce. Some have shut down permanently. The results reveal the extent of reliance businesses have on major support schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“Business is looking to the Budget due to be delivered by the Chancellor next week. It is absolutely imperative that the Chancellor offers an extension to Covid related business support schemes to avoid further business failure and job losses.”