The survey polled over the first two weeks of December also found that just 16% expect Brexit to have a negative impact on their business, while 20% foresee no impact in the next six months and 4% no impact ever.
When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their business the respondents were more split, with 32% expecting the restrictions and a potential third lockdown to have a negative impact in the next six months, and 30% expecting a positive impact. The research finds that business leaders in the region are more immediately concerned about the impact of global travel restrictions, with 40% saying they will have a negative impact on their business.
As restrictions start to tighten even further across certain areas of the UK, 40% also say that ongoing remote working is likely to impact their business in a negative way over the next six months. Thirty-six per cent of respondents also said that the productivity of their people is likely to have a negative impact.
With just days to go to the end of the transition period, the overwhelming majority of mid-market business leaders in the East of England feel either very confident (36%) or fairly confident (56%) that their business has effectively prepared for the changes required as the UK leaves the European Union.
Business leaders were more split when asked how they anticipate Brexit to impact their recovery from COVID-19. Thirty-two percent said they don’t think Brexit will affect their recovery, while 28% said it would help. One in five expect it to hinder their recovery.
Hazel Platt, Tax Partner, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:
“It is unlikely that any business will be able to totally avoid the impact that Brexit, especially a ‘no deal’ scenario, will have. Whether it’s the consequences to the UK economy and the strength of the pound, or the impacts on the day-to-day aspects of doing business in a global market, the effects of Brexit will hit different businesses, in different ways over different timeframes.
“Whilst mid-market business leaders clearly feel that the end of the transition period will be a good thing, it is surprising to see that so many don’t believe there will be an immediate impact on their business. Our work with our mid-market clients, however, does suggest that whilst many businesses have successfully dealt with the unique challenges thrown at them over the last nine months, the uncertainty surrounding the short-term consequences of Brexit has resulted in the deferral of some activity until more clarity is available.
“All business leaders have spent 2020 fighting the more immediate threats presented by the global pandemic. We see from the data that the big definable problems, such as further restrictions in terms of workplace safety, travel restrictions, people productivity, and looming regulatory changes, are higher up the mid-market leader’s list of potential threats than Brexit.”
Censuswide, on behalf of Grant Thornton UK LLP, surveyed 642 senior decision makers in UK mid-market businesses between 1 December 2020 – 11 December 2020, including 50 from the East of England. The mid-market is defined as companies with an average annual turnover between £50million – £500million.