Belfast Telegraph

Act fast and prepare for the Brexit deadline

Lorraine Nelson Lorraine Nelson

The Brexit deadline is looming. If you have not prepared there is still time; but you need to act fast.

Summer recess is coming to an end and over the past week there have been a flurry of official letters between the UK Government and the EU. In the meantime, the Brexit clock keeps ticking down towards 31 October.

At the beginning of the year, we experienced a large number of businesses putting Brexit plans in place before the original deadline of 29 March 2019. This trend has reappeared in recent weeks, with the appointment of Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister and the change of tone within the UK Government.

An immediate focus needs to be on assessing your business continuity for the critical weeks and months following a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario and – related to that – the essential compliance needed for that period. Don’t delay! There is little time left to prepare.

We have been working with a wide range of businesses, over the past few months, and have highlighted a few key things other local businesses are putting in place to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Firstly, in order to be ready by 31 October, businesses need a supply chain plan in place by mid-September at the latest, when significant disruption is expected at numerous docks. After mid-September it will probably be too late to book extra warehousing; to reconfigure your supply chain or distribution; to start building up stock.  It most likely will also be too late to secure extra transportation before 31 October; and talk to customers and suppliers to agree to adjust delivery dates. 

Secondly, businesses exporting to the EU who want to make use of HMRC’s no-deal simplified import procedures need to get applications in by the end of September, as we are seeing one month processing times for these.

Thirdly, HM Revenue & Customs have issued automatic Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers to businesses over the past week, ensure you note this number as it is needed to import and export after Brexit.

Lastly, in the absence of information from their employer, workers will reach out to other, potentially less reliable, sources of information. Businesses should create and implement a robust and effective engagement plan with employees, to provide accurate information to reassure and maintain their focus and trust.

More generally, businesses need to identify the best way of rapid decision making within the business and allow it to be ready for action.  Brexit planning cuts across the usual departmental borders: it covers HR, finance, risk, marketing, sales, operations, distribution and supply chain. A lot of businesses have created Brexit committees that meet regularly and join up all areas of the business. While you may not be alone, other businesses, who could include your competitors have been planning. Do make the most of the next few weeks to gather your team and utilise the local Brexit planning funding, which is available from InterTrade Ireland and Invest NI.