Manufacturers have warned that Brexit will add to soaring costs facing British industry, amid concerns that customs delays and red tape will rank among the biggest challenges for firms this year.
Make UK, the industry body representing 20,000 manufacturing firms of all sizes from across the country, said that while optimism among its members had grown, it was being undermined by the after-effects of the UK’s departure from the EU.
One year on from the end of the transition period, two-thirds of industrial company leaders in its survey of 228 firms said Brexit had moderately or significantly hampered their business. More than half of firms warned they were likely to suffer further damage this year from customs delays due to import checks and changes to product labelling.
Delays at customs, the additional costs from meeting separate regulatory regimes in the UK and the EU, and reduced access to migrant workers were among top concerns raised in the survey.
“It is clear from these figures that Brexit and the global Covid-19 pandemic have had a scarring effect on the mentality of many businesses, which are traumatised by the ongoing delays and disruptions to their supply chains,” the report said.
The warning came as other research showed Britain’s economy was losing steam at the end of last year as the Omicron variant hit demand for goods and services.
According to analysis of leading business surveys by BDO, an accountancy firm, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, business optimism and output growth fell in December as firms grappled with the fallout from the latest wave of Covid infections.