Are Wakefield businesses struggling to stockpile for Brexit because of coronavirus?

Businesses in Wakefield are struggling to stockpile ahead of Brexit because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's been suggested.

Monday, 20th July 2020, 5:15 pm
Updated Monday, 20th July 2020, 5:18 pm
Businesses will have to adapt to new rules next year when the Brexit transition phase ends.

An online meeting was told on Monday that the financial hit from Covid has had a "significant impact" on local firms' ability to plan for life outside the European Union (EU).

The UK has left the EU but is currently in a transition phase until the end of the year, meaning businesses will have to adapt to new rules from the start of 2021.

The government is still in the process of negotiating a trade deal with the EU, which it will need to stop new tariffs being imposed after December 31.

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The UK left the EU earlier this year.

The suggestion that stockpiling is now an issue was made by Wakefield Council officer Mike Denby at a meeting of the authority's audit committee on Monday. It follows feedback from surveys the council has carried out with local businesses

Speaking to councillors, Mr Denby said: "A lot of businesses have been speaking with us to say they've no longer got the resources to do the stockpiling they'd envisaged.

He added: "Covid has had a significant impact on their preparations for Brexit.

"That information will be fed up to the government so we can lobby for additional funding as and when."

Martin Hathaway, MD at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Denby said that the evidence for the problems was "anecdotal" at present, but that the council was looking into the matter further.

But speaking on Monday lunchtime, Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said the suggestion was wide of the mark.

He said that businesses were facing cashflow problems after lockdown and that more answers were needed from the government over Brexit, but that the link between the two was unfounded.

"That's not something that's been brought to my attention," Mr Hathaway said.

"There are plenty of businesses that are struggling for cash, and that will present issues in terms of what they're able to spend on.

"But relating it directly to Brexit might be a bit of a jump.

"I'm sure it was a well intentioned remark from the council, but it's not something that's come up in our conversations.

"We're in the same position on Brexit as we were before really.

"We're still seeking clarity on what the trading position is and what those trade deals will be.

"Businesses have prepared, but the final bit of preparation will only come when they have those answers."

Local Democracy Reporting Service