UK BUSINESSES are struggling to get their heads around the potential impact of an EU exit, with just 15% of executives believing they are ‘well informed’ about the potential impact the EU referendum could have on their business.
A further 39% felt uninformed, with the remainder (46%) suggesting they were ‘somewhat’ informed, according to a survey by accountants Grant Thornton.
Those surveyed urged for more information around: the short-term impact of a vote to leave (46%), the impact on imports and exports of goods and services (36%) and the impact on tax (35%), among other areas.
Post-referendum, the research found that in the event of a vote in favour of leaving the EU, business leaders suggest the government should prioritise the negotiation of trade deals within the EU single market (68%) in order to support business growth.
The negotiation of trade deals outside of the EU was also recognised as a priority for government (58%); along with a review of UK employment legislation based on EU rules (51%). Reaching agreement on rules governing competition, state-aid and anti-trust regulation was also identified as a priority for government (50%).
Should the outcome of the referendum be to remain in the EU, businesses suggest the government should focus on measures to raise UK productivity (70%) and press for further EU reform (63%) to support growth. Less than a quarter (24%) suggested the government should do as little as possible and aim for stability.
Robert Hannah, chief operating officer at Grant Thornton UK, said the firm’s research suggests “a dearth of qualified information” on what the impact of a Brexit would be.
“This then raises an interesting question around preparedness and planning, which we know from earlier research that very few businesses had done. It also suggests that the voting public may be led more by their hearts when entering the polling booths on the 23rd,” said Hannah, who goes on to urge the government prioritises businesses regardless of how the vote turns out.
“With the outcome remaining highly unpredictable, we hope that whichever way the vote goes, the government will prioritise the concerns of business and focus on areas which enable a more dynamic, vibrant UK economy to emerge over the coming years.”
Earlier this week, chancellor George Osborne warned that any future government would have to fill a £30bn financial black hole with tax hikes and spending cuts if the UK votes to leave the European Union.