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Brexit remains biggest business challenge in 2019

Businesses continue to have the same concerns for the next 12 months as they did in 2018, according to research from ICAEW.

February 2019

Uncertainty about the UK relationship with the EU remains the biggest challenge. Other expected challenges are also UK-related, such as slowing UK economic growth, rising UK inflation, plus the lack of clarity on longer-term business priorities from the UK government.

Key headline findings

  • The majority of businesses still expect that uncertainty surrounding the UK relationship with the EU could affect them negatively (69% v 68% in 2018)
  • Lower UK economic growth also continues to be a concern as forecasts are downgraded (67% v 67% in 2018)
  • The lack of clarity on longer-term business priorities from the UK government could be a continuing challenge for over half of companies (58% v 58% in 2018)
  • The same amount also worry about rising UK inflation and the impact on their business (58% v 59% in 2018)
  • The availability of skilled workers is expected to be a continuing challenge (49% v 44% in 2018) across businesses of all sizes (Large 54% v SMEs 43%). 
  • This is all also against the background of a slowdown in the global economy, which concerns 63% of business

Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive, said: “We know that the uncertainty around Brexit continues to impact our members and the businesses they advise.  This is the busiest time of year for companies in terms of financial reporting and planning for the year ahead.

“As 29 March looms large, contingency planning is no longer a theoretical exercise, businesses can’t kick the can down the road. They have to make decisions now about jobs, stock levels and supply chains, incurring significant, and possibly unnecessary, cost. We need our parliamentarians to listen to the real concerns of business and find a way forward that avoids a disorderly exit from the EU and provides some much-needed clarity.”

Details of ICAEW’s economic forecast can be found here.

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