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Preparing your business for leaving the EU

Where are we now? And what does it mean for Scottish businesses?

As of 11 April, European leaders have granted the UK a six-month extension to Brexit. The UK now has until 31 October to either agree an alternative plan or to leave the EU with no deal.

Our advice to all businesses is to continue to actively prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Continue to prepare for a fundamental change to Scotland’s business environment

Unless and until the UK Parliament and EU can agree how the UK will leave the EU in an orderly fashion, the default position is that the UK will leave the EU without a deal.

Our advice is therefore to continue to plan for a no-deal Brexit. Taking urgent action now will help minimise any disruption and ensure that businesses can continue to operate after Brexit.

Read our guidance on the essential actions businesses should take now

How will Brexit affect my business?

Significant changes to Scotland’s business environment will take place as a result of Brexit. This includes the vast array of EU legislation, regulation, funding programmes and trade agreements created over the last 40+ years which have governed how business operates in Scotland.

The implications for Scottish business are far-reaching:

  • Even if you’re not a direct importer or exporter, the chances are that many components and products you use originate in the EU
  • Even if you don’t employ any EU workers, the availability and cost of local labour may change
  • Even if you only serve Scottish or UK markets, the competition your business faces now may change

Where can I access information and advice?

Making your business Brexit-ready might seem daunting or costly. But there are many actions you can take now that are low-risk and low-cost.

The information, advice, funding and other resources on this site reflect the UK Government's latest no-deal guidance to businesses. It will help you identify how Brexit may affect your business.

Here are some suggested actions to help mitigate the risks and identify opportunities:

Develop a plan – then act!

It’s essential that you use the additional time during the extension to Article 50 to act quickly.

1. Make a plan

If you haven’t already started preparing for Brexit, nominate a senior member of staff or team to develop and then execute your plan.

Complete the self-assessment tool to identify your exposure to Brexit risks and opportunities. And use the output from the self-assessment tool to focus on the priority issues faced by your business.

Identify both the immediate actions to take just now as well as the contingency actions to take when other details become clearer.

Use the Brexit checklist to quickly identify the main issues you should focus on.

2. Take action

Once you’ve identified the issues you need to address the most important step is to take action.

Read the essential actions that many businesses should take. Use these as a starting point.

Sign up to attend a Brexit event where you’ll get specialist advice on a range of Brexit-related topics.

3. Regularly review your Brexit readiness

Review the Resources page for more detailed information, including what Brexit will mean for Scotland’s sectors and continuing business with EU27 countries.

Further developments in the Brexit process over coming weeks will provide new information to help you increase your Brexit readiness. It’s vital that you continue to review the issues affecting your business.

This site will be regularly updated so please check back for the latest information, advice and support.

4. Explore funding options to help with Brexit costs

The Brexit Support Grant provides 100% funding, minimum £2,000 to a maximum of £4,000 to help VAT-registered SMEs manage a wide range of Brexit impacts.

It provides support for consultancy, professional fees, interns, graduate placements and international market visits directly related to Brexit.

Find out more and apply

Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies also have a range of other funding programmes to help your business manage the risks and opportunities related to Brexit.

You can find out further information on our Resources page, send us an enquiry or call us on 0300 303 0661 (Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm).

Still think Brexit won’t affect your business?

Consider these scenarios:

"I don’t export or import"

  • If your suppliers are exporters or importers they may pass on higher costs to you (53% of the UK’s goods are imported)
  • Find out what tariffs are likely to apply under a 'no-deal' scenario for the product categories relevant to your business
  • Domestic competition within the UK may increase, making it harder to do business

"I don’t employ any EU staff"

  • If you want to recruit in the future, the pool of labour may be smaller and wages may rise as a result

"I have secure contracts and customers"

  • Your customers and suppliers may be re-thinking their supply chains given the significant changes taking place, especially in a 'no-deal' scenario. Speak to them now to find out if they are planning any changes
  • Consumer and business confidence may suffer, especially if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement. This will likely affect demand for your products and services.

"Regulations won’t change for my sector"

  • The UK Withdrawal Act will transpose EU regulations into UK law if a deal is agreed. However, it’s possible that under a 'no deal' scenario UK regulations may cease to be recognised by the EU.
  • This could affect issues such as the assessment and certification of products/services as well as packaging and labelling. The issues differ from sector to sector, so check the UK Government guidance or with your trade body.

Got a Brexit planning question?

Get in touch with our export advisers for full details of how we can help your business grow in EU markets and beyond.