Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
5:00 AM 13th January 2021

Yorkshire Businesses Fear Future Lockdown Measures More Than Impact Of Brexit

Future pandemic restrictions were deemed the biggest challenge facing businesses by three times as many business owners as Brexit

Further and future pandemic lockdown measures are feared more than the impact of Brexit, by Yorkshire’s business owners and directors, according to new research.

As Britain begins life as an independent nation, a new survey of business owners and senior leaders has revealed that pandemic restrictions pose a bigger challenge than the implications of Brexit. The survey into the future of Britain’s businesses, by Langleys Solicitors, saw businesses score the future threat of pandemic measures 7.2 out of 10, and Brexit 6.8.

Following the short notice changes to the tiered restrictions, senior leaders across Yorkshire felt that it presented a bigger challenge in the next five years of business than financial uncertainty (7.1), increased regulation (6.6), challenge of exporting (6.0) and increased competition (5.7). Survey participants were asked to score a variety of business challenges from one (lowest concern) to 10 (highest concern).

Despite the implications of leaving the EU coming into play in January, concern for future pandemic restrictions was scored 10 by more than twice as many business owners and directors as Brexit – 19.4% versus 8.1%. Furthermore, 61% of respondents said that a prolonged second and third wave and subsequent lockdown is a larger risk to their businesses than a Brexit in the next 12 months.

The research by the York-based law firm, found that 50% of businesses in the area have experienced decreased customer demand due to coronavirus and lockdown restrictions, and 35% of respondents now have fewer staff than pre-lockdown. While more than half (58%) of businesses have had to change their business model as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Tim Cross, managing partner at Langleys Solicitors said: “Brexit and coronavirus made 2020 a very difficult year for businesses and their owners and, as lockdowns continue to tighten in many parts of the country, Yorkshire businesses could be facing their worst fears once again.

“Sadly, over a third of our survey respondents in the area are considering redundancies and the news of a new virus strain and the introduction of stricter tiered measures are likely to turn these considerations into difficult decisions for business owners.

“Although support measures, such as the extended furlough scheme, have been put in place by the government, business owners must now negotiate the complicated options available to them whilst trying to ensure the continuity of their businesses. The application processes and eligibility criteria may be difficult to decipher, which adds further pressure on to business owners who are trying to keep their companies afloat. Business owners who are struggling under the new restrictions should familiarise themselves with current support package options as soon as possible to keep the impacts of these new restrictions and any future ones to a minimum.”

Langleys conducted the research of 250 UK business owners and directors for its Back to Business? Report, which will be published in January 2021. The report looks into the challenges faced by companies in the UK and the areas the law firm operates in.

Businesses nationally shared similar outlooks in relation to their future with 20% reporting future pandemic measures as their biggest challenge, rather than Brexit (7%).

For a copy of the report click here