Central South business leaders more positive about the impact of Brexit

Stuart Lisle, Tax Partner and Co-Chair of BDO’s Brexit Taskforce

A live poll of over 100 business leaders reveals that 60% now believe that Brexit will not damage their business.

The question was asked at BDO LLP’s Budget Breakfast Briefing in Southampton this week which brought together senior business people from across the region.

The results are in stark contrast to a national survey carried out by the accountancy and advisory firm immediately after the referendum. Then 400 clients were asked if they believed Brexit would damage their business and over 80% felt it would.

Stuart Lisle, Southampton tax partner and leader of the BDO Brexit taskforce, commented: “The predicted immediate fall-out from the decision to leave the EU has not materialised and the UK economy is performing strongly. There seems to be increasing pragmatism regarding Brexit both from businesses, the government and even some members of the European Parliament with a ‘we have a problem that we need to solve together” approach.”

Attendees at the breakfast listened to BDO’s reaction to the Chancellor’s first, and last, Spring Budget and were updated on the impact of the announced changes. They were then also given an overview of BDO’s New Economy report which makes a number of policy recommendations for a thriving post-Brexit UK economy, calls on the Government to increase funding to support investment and help businesses modernise themselves for the challenges ahead.

When the audience were asked what measures would most help the economy prepare for Brexit, investment in smart and connected infrastructure came out on top with 43% of the vote.

Jane Mulholland, head of tax at BDO in Southampton, said: “Investment in smart, connected infrastructure is about getting from A to B – both physically and digitally, in both production and automation – in the most efficient way possible. For every £1 invested in infrastructure, there’s a reported £3 return for the economy.”

“We have heard a lot of talk about the government’s recent industrial and digital strategies to invest in infrastructure and technology to drive productivity and the Chancellor has now set out the initial projects being supported by the previously announced £23bn National Productivity Fund but we need to see immediate progress in this area.”