The sectors most likely to face Brexit challenges and how to overcome them
As Brexit approaches, it’s likely that some sectors are going to be impacted more than others.
Healthcare, agriculture, haulage and logistics, and construction are all sectors that have already come under strain during the pandemic and are likely to be affected by any changes that Brexit brings about. New rules and regulations are likely to pose a number of challenges for them.
Our experts from across Duncan & Toplis have shared their insights into the industries they feel are going to be most affected by Brexit over the coming months and years, and their advice to those looking to adapt.
Christine Newitt, head of VAT and healthcare specialist
For the healthcare sector, a no deal Brexit poses a significant risk to the supply of workers, medicines and medical devices into the UK. The EU has a harmonised approach to medicine regulation, and the UK will no longer be a part of this after Brexit. As a result, this could slow down the authorisation and importation process. Meanwhile, a lack of freedom of movement will impact the supply of care workers from the EU, and may also result in the current workforce leaving the UK.
To mitigate these issues, health practices should carry out a number of checks as soon as possible. This includes the need for new import and export licenses, how they want to make customs declarations moving forward, whether tariffs will need to be paid on imports, which employees need a visa or work permit, the need for an EORI number, and whether they need to register on the new UK REACH system for chemical regulations.
Healthcare services also need to be aware that some goods being imported into the UK may attract a trade tariff, so they need to be aware of commodity codes and VAT and duty rates applicable to their business. It’s been a difficult year for the sector, but making much needed preparation now will ensure that everything runs smoothly when Brexit comes into play.
Keith Phillips, head of transport, haulage and logistics
For the haulage and logistics sector, the main initial concern around Brexit is the major cost of delayed access at the borders as importers, exporters and custom officials on both sides of the channel adjust to a new way of working. In the long term, there are worries about the potential lack of goods being moved – confidence in UK manufacturing in the face of a no deal Brexit and potential tariffs that might be put in place are also a cause for concern. This will affect the level of raw materials and finished goods that need to be moved around and so will impact the need for hauliers. There might also be a workforce shortage, as many firms hire European drivers who may leave the UK.
As soon as possible, haulage companies need to assess how their customers will be impacted by the changes Brexit will bring about, and whether their fleet can react effectively. If not, they need to make changes now to ensure they are ready. Hauliers should also contact their clients to make sure they are aware of the import and export rules which might impact them, ensure drivers are aware of the new rules and are trained to be adaptable to new working practices, and above all, not be complacent as the market will change – and it will change quickly.
Mark Taylor, head of tax projects and property and construction specialist
For the construction sector, labour shortages are a significant problem brought about by Brexit. This may become an issue if workers cannot come to the UK from EU countries because of a loss of the right to free movement. Sourcing materials has been an ongoing difficulty for the construction industry since the UK’s first lockdown in March, and Brexit may add to this by impacting the free movement of goods, which could cause material prices to increase.
Planning ahead by sourcing materials now to ensure that construction projects can continue without interruption will be key to mitigating any challenges they might face. As well as considering now how to support their workforce through any impact that Brexit will have is also important to aid retaining workers.
Mark Chatterton, head of agriculture
Seasonal workers play a huge role in the agriculture industry each year, so there will be a noticeable shortage of workers of all skill levels after Brexit. Exports to the EU are crucial, and so whatever happens, the industry must be able to continue to export to the EU and the rest of the world – but this may become more difficult depending on the trade agreements that are reached.
There’s also a concern that welfare standards for meat won’t be upheld; for example, standards aren’t as strong for imported Argentine and Brazilian beef, so the UK needs trade agreements that protect these standards and don’t cause unfair competition in the market or a drive to the bottom in quality.
For the agriculture sector, the onus is on the government to ensure that these challenges are overcome so that the industry can continue operating efficiently and to a high standard. It’s important that a fair employment system is in place, there are no onerous tariffs on imports and exports, and standards are protected through robust trade agreements.
By taking these steps now, businesses should be able to ease any potential issues that Brexit may cause now and in the future.
If you’re preparing your business for Brexit and need expert advice, speak to a member of our team today.