Helping businesses to become Brexit-ready
Wakefield Council's business-facing arm, Wakefield First, has met with the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce as part of its ongoing preparations for the UK leaving the European Union.
The organisations are working together to ensure local businesses are as prepared as possible for the likely impacts in the Wakefield District.
The Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Denise Jeffery, and Chief Executive, Merran McRae, met with the Managing Director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Martin Hathaway, to discuss the next steps.
These include raising awareness of the support and advice available; lobbying together to get the best outcomes for Wakefield; and working with local businesses on how to prepare for the UK's departure from the EU.
This builds on the continued support that the Council has been offering businesses in the run-up to leaving the EU. For example, the Council's Wakefield First Business support team are meeting businesses daily to help them get 'Brexit Ready' and consider life after withdrawal from the European Union. In addition, Wakefield First teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce during business week in October. The week included a range of conferences and events to help businesses and focused on the impacts of Brexit for businesses in our District, especially those that export to the European Union.
The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce supports exports worth €1.2billion annually from around 300 exporters across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.
Cllr Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said:
"It's important for local businesses to understand how leaving the EU might affect them and what they can do to get ready. There are steps businesses can be taking now to help understand the scenarios they should be planning for and how to prepare accordingly. Our business support team at Wakefield First have been working closely with the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce for a number of months now to make that task as easy as possible, and to ensure a successful transition after Brexit."
Martin Hathaway, Managing Director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:
"These are uneasy times for many exporters concerned by persistent uncertainty around Brexit and future terms of trade with key partners. As we approach the deadline, so many questions remain unanswered and with the chance of no-deal still looming, businesses are preparing for the possibility of increased volatility.
"Our Chamber is working with Wakefield Council in a joint endeavour to provide relevant information which may prove useful to businesses whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations.
"At a time when all of the cogs of Government seem to be jammed by Brexit, issues crucial to the UK's competitiveness and productivity have gone ignored. Business communities continue to shout about the scale of labour shortages, with four in five manufacturers reporting recruitment difficulties. Yet there has been little action relating to improvements in the UK's training or skills system, nor has the Government's immigration blueprint delivered on calls for a system to provide easy access to skills at all levels.
"The Government must urgently deliver clarity on the UK's future after Brexit, and then immediately refocus on the fundamentals of the domestic environment. Removing barriers to growth at home is more important than ever at a time of such uncertainty and transition for our business communities."
For a range of business advice, please visit www.wakefieldfirst.com, www.mycci.co.uk, www.fsb.org.uk, www.export.org.uk and www.gov.uk/hmrc/trade-with-the-eu
As well as supporting businesses, the Council is taking a range of other actions to ensure Wakefield is as prepared as possible for the UK's departure from the EU. It was one of the first local authorities to produce an impact and risk assessment last autumn. This was updated and presented to the Council's Audit Committee in January 2019.
Other Council preparations so far include:
- Working with the NHS regarding the supply of medicines, workforce issues and other supplies.
- Carrying out weekly regional and national teleconferences with partner organisations to ensure resilience, contingency planning and business continuity arrangements are in place.
- Addressing local people's concerns on factors such as the EU Settlement Scheme (EU citizens and their families will be able to apply to the Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021).