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UK engineering services firms remain unclear about Brexit implications, despite just weeks to go

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Just under a third of UK engineering services businesses are still not clear about the forthcoming business implications of Brexit, according to a new survey. 

The survey targeted member companies of the ECA, BESA, SNIPEF and SELECT, with 386 firms sharing their thoughts regarding the fast-approaching end to the UK-EU transition period. It seems that many have been so focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, that they haven’t fully got to grips with the impact that Brexit will have. 

When asked about whether or not they were clear of the business implications associated with the end of the transition period, 30% of firms noted that they were not entirely clear about the impact. 

75% of respondents said that they expect the cost of electrical and electronic products to either stay the same or rise after the transition deadline of December 31, 2020. However, although over 40% of respondents said product availability was a major factor on the horizon, fewer than 1 in 5 (17%) said they expected product availability to be negatively impacted. 49% replied that they expect availability to broadly stay the same.

66% of businesses did not believe skills would be a significant problem after Brexit, and less than a fifth (18%) had adopted methods for dealing with skills issues linked to the Brexit transition. This figure doubled for businesses with turnover above £20 million.

Rob Driscoll, ECA director of legal and business, commented on the findings, “It is perhaps no surprise that uncertainty remains a central theme as we inch closer to the Brexit deadline. However, these figures also reveal a degree of confidence in the sector – confidence in the availability of materials, and of skilled and competent individuals, once we are no longer part of the EU.”

Alan Wilson, SELECT managing director, added, “These findings show that there is still ongoing concern about Brexit, with the sector also still weighing up the long-term impact of COVID-19. However, despite these twin uncertainties, it is encouraging to see the industry showing some confidence in other areas as we move into what will no doubt be an eventful 2021.”  

Fiona Hodgson, SNIPEF chief executive, concluded, “The latest survey shows our Members are optimistic about Brexit and recovery from the pandemic. However, there is still much uncertainty surrounding both which may continue to have implications for the supply chain for some time. We will continue to monitor the position and Members need to consider the effect of higher prices and longer lead times when planning work.”

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