Government warns businesses over Brexit transition countdown

Government warns businesses over Brexit transition countdown
Alok Sharma begins countdown to Brexit transition for UK businesses.
// Government urges businesses to “act now” with just 81 days left to prepare for Brexit transition
// Retailers can attend online webinar on Wednesday October 14 to help make arrangements

The UK government on Sunday issued a warning to businesses to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.

In a press release today, Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced that firms would need to “take action now” to prepare for the UK’s “new start” on January 1 2021.

Sharma will write to 600,000 firms this week, calling on businesses to familiarise themselves with the actions they will need to take once Britain has left the European Union, recommending they visit and use the government’s checker tool.

READ MORE: Shop prices fall in September but no-deal Brexit may impact retail, BRC says

When the transition period ends on December 31 2020, the government has stated there will be a guaranteed set of changes and opportunities for which businesses need to prepare as the UK leaves the customs union and single market.

This will include changes to the way businesses import and export goods, the process for hiring people from the EU, and the way businesses provide services in EU markets.

“With just 81 days until the end of the transition period, businesses must act now to ensure they are ready for the UK’s new start come January. There will be no extension to the transition period, so there is no time to waste,” Sharma said.

“I urge all businesses across the country to check to see what action they need to take, sign up for updates, or attend one of our sector-specific webinars.

“Businesses have a crucial role to play in ensuring a smooth transition, and we will be there to support them through this change every step of the way.”

Sharma added that most of what businesses need to do is the same regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

Alongside the checklist, a range of webinars have been arranged by the Business Department for businesses to attend online.

The first of these is on Tuesday October 13, focusing on services and investment, followed by a retail-focused session on Wednesday October 14.

The news comes as many of the country’s retailers are braced for a new spate of local lockdowns, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to announce new coronavirus measures on Monday.

Although the final quarter of the year is usually considered ‘peak trading’ for retailers, a looming no-deal Brexit could exacerbate what has been a relentlessly tough time for the high street.

Last month British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson warned a no-deal Brexit could mean new costs for the industry.

“Many non-food retailers will face large tariff bills, and as a result, the total cost to the industry and its customers would be much higher.

“The government must prioritise a tariff-free deal, otherwise hard-pressed consumers will bear the brunt of price increases,” Dickinson added.

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