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East Midlands businesses fear future lockdown measures more than impact of Brexit

Further and future pandemic lockdown measures are feared more than the impact of Brexit, by East Midlands-based business owners and directors, according to new research.

As Britain begins life as an independent nation, a new survey of East Midlands’ 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 in the region score the future threat of pandemic measures 7.2 out of 10, and Brexit 6.9.

Following the short notice changes to the tiered restrictions, senior leaders felt that it presented a bigger challenge in the next five years of business than increased regulation (6.6), challenge of exporting (5.9) and increased competition (6.2). 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 twice as many business owners and directors than Brexit – 18.2% versus 9.1%. Furthermore, 64% of respondents in the East Midlands 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 East Midlands-based law firm, found that 55% of businesses in the area have experienced decreased customer demand due to coronavirus and lockdown restrictions, and 27% of respondents now have fewer staff than pre-lockdown. Additionally, 68% of East Midlands businesses have had to change their business model as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, which is significantly more than the national average of 58%.

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, businesses under future tiered regulations could be facing their worst fears once again. Business owners and leaders in East Midlands have reported disproportional troubles, with more businesses in the area facing decreased customer demands and business models changes than the national average.

“Sadly, 41% 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%).

Langleys’ specialist Corporate, Commercial and Employment law teams are available to advise on any questions business owners have in relation to new lockdown restrictions, Brexit and the future of their business. To find out more visit Langleys’ website or call 0330 0947777.