Brexit uncertainty: UK businesses hit by severe staff shortage
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the “UK economy is in stasis” as the date of Brexit — March 29 — draws near and revealed a “big squeeze on firms from recruitment, prices and cash flow”.
A leading British business organisation on Thursday reported that 81% of the manufacturing sector and 70% in the services sector are facing difficulties in recruiting staff with the right skills due to uncertainties related to Brexit.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said its quarterly economic survey revealed “big squeeze on firms from recruitment, prices and cash flow”, adding that the “UK economy is in stasis” as the date of Brexit — March 29 — draws near.
Recent official figures have revealed a significant dip in the number of EU citizens coming to the UK, while industry analyses suggest that many workers and professionals from EU working in the UK have left the country.
The survey of 6,000 companies employing over 1 million people highlights the impact what the BCC called “current levels of uncertainty” on a “stalling economy”. There is likely to be progress on the parliamentary impasse on the withdrawal agreement when the session resumes on Monday.
Calling on political parties to find a way to ensure that the UK does not “face a messy and disorderly” exit from the EU, the BCC said avoiding a chaotic Brexit would give companies much-needed clarity on trading conditions in the near-term.
Adam Marshall, BCC director-general, said: “Throughout much of 2018, UK businesses were subjected to a barrage of political noise and drama, so it’s no surprise to see firms report muted domestic demand and investment.”
“In this new year, the government must demonstrate that it is ready to act to turbo-charge business confidence. With little clarity on the trading conditions they’ll face in just two months’ time, companies are understandably holding back on spending and making big decisions about their futures,” he said.
Brexit, Marshall added, “is hoovering up” all of the Theresa May government’s attention and resources, but it is not the only cause of uncertainty.
“Given the magnitude of the recruitment difficulties faced by firms across the UK, business concerns about the government’s recent blueprint for future immigration rules must be taken seriously — and companies must be able to access skills at all levels without heavy costs or bureaucracy,” he said.