Suffolk businesses looking to hire 'Brexit advisors' to help explain what exactly is going on
PUBLISHED: 12:31 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:31 12 April 2019
For many Brexit is proving to be an unsolvable puzzle.
A seemingly endless riddle designed to split opinion and induce anxiety for businesses across the nation.
The one unifying theme throughout has been no one is really sure what will happen next.
In a bid to combat this, a first of its kind scheme has been launched across Suffolk to hire two Brexit business advisors to explain just what exactly is going on.
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Earlier this year the government revealed it would be awarding local councils extra money to help prepare for Brexit.
The Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) group has decided to pool the money to create a joint fund.
This fund has since granted cash to Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to create the posts to support small and medium businesses.
“Individually, each of the councils would be limited in what they could achieve with this extra funding,” said Stephen Baker, chief executive of East Suffolk Council and a SPSL representative.
“However, by pooling the money, we can really make a difference and help those most in need our support, the small businesses.
“This is another example of how the local authorities in Suffolk work together with our partners to address the problems that we face, working towards a joint goal.”
The scheme will function as a help desk of sorts – with the two new advisors offering support as well as the latest expert advice to businesses on during the extended period of Brexit uncertainty.
The pair will also take on a problem-solving approach by speaking with businesses and diagnosing barriers to their survival and growth.
They will then devise action plans to address these issues and help the firms better prepare for the new challenges.
It is hoped the positions will be filled by July, and will last for two years as businesses adapt to life outside the European Union.
For some businesses the help cannot come soon enough.
A recent survey from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce revealed the lack of certainty around Brexit has already had a negative impact on investment and employment.
While the group’s quarterly economic survey showed a further decline in business activity, especially in cash flow, orders and profitability.
“We have received reports of many companies stockpiling inventory, including one company which has brought forward a quarter’s worth of stock - £40m in total,” said chief executive John Dugmore.
“Clearly, this is only sustainable in the short-term as stockpiling both eats into working capital and becomes increasingly expensive as warehousing capacity grows more scarce.
“The period since the June 2016 referendum has been extremely frustrating for the business community in Suffolk and across the UK.
“Business leaders and entrepreneurs are by nature pragmatists, able to make the best of virtually any eventuality, but clarity and good quality advice and support are needed to drive business on.”
Surya Foods is one of the region’s businesses left frustrated by the ongoing uncertainty created by the Brexit extension.
The international food company, based in Harwich, is part of the Flying Trade Group and imports and exports world food across the globe.
“We are in the same position as we were yesterday and we simply don’t know what kind of trading arrangement the UK will end up with.” Said Suki Dulai, chief executive of the Flying Trade Group.
Harry Dulai, Surya Foods managing director added: “It is not the concept of Brexit causing an issue for businesses, it is the uncertainty.
“Unfortunately this is simply a continuation of that uncertainty and it will continue to hinder our business: it leaves a question mark over pricing, availability and delays our long term investments.”
“We have already seen retailers delaying promotions for the remaining part of the year from which we are now seeing a short term inflation.
“We are fortunate to have substantial storage capacity to strengthen our stocks so any delays at the port wouldn’t affect us too much.”