Amongst all the speculation about what will happen, companies are wondering what they can practically do when the position seems so unclear.
The choice appears to be between a massive amount of preparation for an eventuality which may not happen (shades of the “Millennium Bug”) or under preparation and being caught out by potential chaos. One of the most interesting viewpoints I read was from KPMG who had carried out a survey showing that companies and individual reactions were very much formulated by the attitude they had to Brexit in the first place and secondly whether they thought it was actually going to go ahead.
As at the 12th of December, all options appear to still be on the table with only 105 days to go until the formal Brexit date.
So, what can companies do or should they actually be doing anything? Charging around making precipitate decisions is a course of folly. What is needed is a cool head and a focus on gaining the necessary information about the company’s operations.
For example, even if there is a no deal Brexit the immediate effect on services would be extremely limited. The VAT procedures would see only limited changes from how they operate at present. In terms of goods, there is more of an issue regarding logistics at ports rather than the limited value tariffs that would potentially be imposed. Companies should also look at how their imports and export to and from non-EU countries work at present to obtain an idea of the real no deal effect.
Of more concern might be the EU social security agreements which would no longer be operative once the UK left the EU under a no deal scenario. It would therefore be a good step to look at where individual employees are based and which ones are paying social security contributions to their Home Country rather than where they principally work. Where they are paying UK Social Security (NIC), will they be forced to pay.
Companies that gather valuable information about their own products, services and people will be in a better position to take measured action once it is clear what form of BREXIT, if any, will take place.