News & Events

Minister Humphreys publishes new Brexit business survey and urges SMEs to ramp up preparations

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD today published the findings of a new Brexit survey, which was commissioned by her Department. The Behaviour & Attitudes survey of 1,016 SMEs was conducted between September and October 2019. The key findings include:

  • Impact

13% are experiencing significant Brexit impact; 39% report some impact; 48% report no impact; and 72% expect an impact even with an orderly Brexit.

32% (up from 21% in March) have postponed a business decision or investment, while only 17% (up from 11%) have accelerated a business decision or investment. Stalling is higher among export businesses.

  • Preparedness

77% reported that Brexit is on the agenda of their top management – up from 33% after the referendum in mid-2016. This rises to 86% among UK exporters. An extra 14% have been discussing Brexit within the past 6 months. Key areas of concern are supply chain, tariffs and customs protocols.

60% have sought information through attending a workshop, applying for supports or reading information they received.  This compares with 40% in March.

  • Action

33% have taken some action, while 42% of those exporting to the UK have done so. It may be difficult for SMEs to act when the exact challenges remain unclear. 22% of SME UK importers/exporters plan to engage a customs agent (12% have already actioned this). 21% will train someone internally (8% have done so already)

Minister Humphreys said:

I fully accept that it has been difficult for businesses to plan for a situation that is in no way clear cut. The fact that we have had a number of false starts at this stage may have created some doubt in the business community about whether Brexit would happen at all.

The election result means that the UK Government has a clear majority. This brings a certainty we have been lacking up to now and every indication is that the UK will be leaving the EU at the end of January. 

The threat of a crash-out may have subsided for now but the reality is that any kind of Brexit is going to hurt Irish enterprise.

It’s important also for everybody to remember that Brexit doesn’t end on the 31st January.

Yes - if the Withdrawal agreement is passed, we will have achieved our core objectives of ensuring no hard border on the island of Ireland, protecting the Good Friday Agreement, and safeguarding the Single Market as well as our place in it.

However, we are now heading into a long and complex process with the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. 

Against this backdrop, my message to firms is this: act now to protect your business and employees. Brexit is happening and businesses must therefore proactively plan for a different trading relationship with the UK.

The Government has developed a wide range of supports to help you put a plan in place from grants to mentoring to loan schemes, so please visit today to see how we can assist.”

The Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen, said:

A quarter of firms report that they use the UK landbridge to transit goods to and from EU markets. I want to remind these businesses that there is a simplified transit customs process for goods using the landbridge, but to avail of it you must put in place a Revenue approved comprehensive financial guarantee. This can take time, so I urge businesses to start this process with their financial provider and Revenue straight away. You can do it yourself or get your customs agent or logistics company to do it for you but start the process now to be ready in time.


Note to Editors

“Brexit – the view of Irish SMEs: September/October 2019” is published here: Brexit: A National SME Study

The survey was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The range of supports and guidance to support businesses to prepare for Brexit are available on the Department’s website: Getting Business Brexit Ready

The Brexit Loan Scheme

The Brexit Loan Scheme provides affordable working capital to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees that are or will be Brexit impacted and which meet the scheme criteria.  The €23 million exchequer funding announced in the 2018 Budget (€14 million from Department of Business. Enterprise and Innovation and €9 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) has been leveraged to provide a fund of up to €300 million over the lifetime of the scheme.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme

The Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €300 million worth of loans available with a term of eight to ten years and is open to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment. Finance provided under the scheme is competitively priced and has favourable terms, for example, no security is required for loans up to €500,000.

Loans to businesses under the scheme can be used to fund investments in equipment, machinery, buildings and associated overhead costs for organisational and/or process innovation.  Loans to primary agriculture under the scheme can be used to fund investment in tangible and intangible assets on agricultural holdings linked to primary agricultural production.

More information on the Future Growth Loan Scheme and the Brexit Loan Scheme are available on the SBCI website:

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631-2200

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